Committee staff reported the department said there is a dollar amount threshold for referendums and green building costs can be excluded from that in order to avoid a referendum. Staff said, according to the department, if there is a referendum anyway, all projects will be included in the ballot question, including green construction. (PLS subscription)
With the cost of school construction and debt spending on the rise this bill could have wide implications. As noted in Nate Benefield’s testimony on education spending:
Construction and debt spending grew 137% from 1996-97 to 2007-08, compared with 66% growth in instructional spending.
In committee, legislators debated whether green construction is more expensive and Rep. Drucker indicated responded the upfront costs are but the long-term costs are “significantly less”. And Rep. Clymer hit the nail on the head when he asked why the exemption is needed if green technology is accepted by the taxpayers.
HB 689 hinders the ability of local taxpayers to gauge the true cost of school construction in their district and is just one more way government favors alternative energy companies at the expense of taxpayers.