Sen. Jim Wilson today said an effort by Sen. Clark Jolley to build a new medical examiner’s facility in his Edmond district has triggered the request of an opinion from the Attorney General, and has clouded the bond rating of every institution of higher education in Oklahoma.
Wilson said Jolley attempted to circumvent the normal appropriations or bonding process by adding the $42 million capital expenditure to the Real Property Master Lease Program. The program was designed, Wilson said, to allow colleges and universities to make capital improvements such as roof repairs.
“Because of Jolley’s effort, Senator Patrick Anderson properly thought it appropriate to ask the Attorney General for an opinion regarding the legitimate use for the master lease program,” said Wilson, D-Tahlequah. “While waiting for the Attorney General to rule, the bond oversight council thinks it is prudent to suspend the sale or refinancing of any bonds on the master lease list. Until the cloud is removed, the market may not be receptive to a bond sale.”
Wilson noted the alternative for financing is the passage of a resolution allowing the individual universities to offer their own bonds. This method will be far more costly because the universities, with the exception of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, do not have a bond rating as high as that of the master lease program, he added.
“We’re finding out that Sen. Jolley’s attempts to cheat the system will not be without their costs,” Wilson said. “It’s my belief that attempting to issue the bond through the Master Lease Program was a clear effort to bypass the Legislature. The unintended consequences may be more than anyone bargained for.”