CHICAGO — The Ohio Treasurer and a handful of state legislators are pushing for a new law that would require local governments and the state to post more detailed debt information on ballots when asking voters for permission to issue general obligation bonds.
Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, and eight other representatives introduced the legislation Wednesday, which did not yet have a number as of press time. The bill would require all political subdivisions, from library districts to the state, to include information about outstanding debt to voters considering new borrowing. Governments would need to the amount of outstanding debt and the per-capita breakdown of that amount, as well as how much the new borrowing would increase the per-capita amount.
Currently governments need to tell voters the size and purpose of the proposed GO borrowing, the life of the debt, projected interest rate, and if a tax levy is needed to support it.
"We believe the voters need more information than that to make a really informed decision," Roegner said at a press conference with Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel and a handful of legislators. "Information that we believe the voters need will be: How much current debt exists? How much outstanding debt is there? And what does that mean on a per-capita basis?"
The bill originated in Mandel's office, Roegner said. The treasurer said it is "all about transparency."
Mandel said he doesn't believe the bill would dampen bond issuance. "It just means [citizens] are more equipped and better informed," he said. "I don't think it will have a necessarily positive or negative impact, it will just have an informative impact."
The bill would require governments to publish the information in the local newspaper and on the ballots as well as on a government web site 45 days ahead of the election.