Monday, October 8

Yesterday's News Today

SO in the past week What's Left of the Indianapolis Star suddenly noticed, at the 7-3/4 year mark, what the Daniels administration has really been up to.  Sunday brought the shocking news that Daniels will leave for Purdue in a couple months having spent the $3.8 billion dollars the "state" "received" for leasing the Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years. And that money has managed to build well over half the program's centerpiece, paving over all the wasted farmland, wetlands, woodlands, and backyards between Evansville and Indianapolis to complete the unfortunately named I-69, unfortunate not for the sexual connotation, but because it suggests a consensual type of sodomy, and one which is pretty much the opposite of what was actually involved.

All that's left, really, is to figure out how to get the thing to Bloomington, so we can be completely flummoxed finding the $1.2 billion needed to complete it from there.

But fear not, children, your Master speaketh:
"The entire history of this project -- I'm talking about since we got started -- is of cost reduction and underestimates," Daniels said. "My instruction was, 'Build a road, but don't overbuild a road.' And so the cost of whatever remains, will, I think, be quite manageable."

[Forgive me for sleeping as much as I could, but I could swear that during the great Toll Road Swindle of Aught Five we were told that I-69--which sane people have been fighting (and stopping) for thirty years, opposed only by Republicans and Democrats--was going to be completed for just a fraction of what we pocketed on the Toll Road Deal. And then it was insisted that the sudden stop the project made was intentional, and that money was really only for materials, aside from that part of it which was missing due to falling interest rates, which no one could have foreseen, especially an economics genius and Rand fanboy like the Bantam Menace. Now it's "Well, my boys have given you a great start"???]

This follows last weekend's astonishing revelation that the state's natural gas ratepayers are likely going to wind up another $1.2 billion in the hole on the big Coal Gasification Plant deal that was just too lucrative for the state to pass up. And one which wouldn't have existed without the state signing a 30-year deal to buy natural gas from Leucadia at $6.60 (2008 dollars) per million BTU, because Leucadia sure didn't wanna use its own money building the plant, and no sane people would loan it any. Natural gas now goes for three bucks, and is projected to remain below $5 until 2023.

It's okay, though; any Hoosiers who manage to stay alive for thirty more years will be reaping in big bucks, according to former Daniels adviser, premier Indiana Republican fixer, and, yes, Indiana project director for Indiana Gasification LLC, Leucadia's "subsidiary", Mark Lubbers:
"You can find price forecasters across the board," he said. "That's why the [Indiana Utility Regulator Commission] said the only thing certain is the uncertainty of the price.

And the certainty of the deal being rammed through.
But virtually all of the recent evidence weighs heavily on the side of gas prices above $7 when the (substitute natural gas) plant comes on line in 2017."

Yeah, what a shame for you, then, that they're so unreliable.
Lubbers said the debate about Vectren's "absurd" estimates ignores other factors, such as Indiana Gasification's commitment to cover up to $150 million of any losses. The company also "guarantees" $100 million in savings by the end of the 30 years, Lubbers said.

If those savings aren't realized, Indiana Gasification can cover the shortfall in cash or extend its contract with the state at a lower price. Absent those two things, the state could force a sale of the plant to make up the difference.

Oh, man, I guess I was gettin' all excited over nothin'.

I'd just like to mention, once again, that the state remains in arrears over its (badly managed) unemployment insurance program, and still owes the feds $2 billion, so far as I can tell; it sure wasn't addressed in this year's Double Plus Good and Union Busting budget, which nevertheless managed to achieve a surplus somehow; these guys are good. Much like the one we're so confident of for next year that Daniels and Republican lawmakers have already been thinking out loud about how best to return it to this year's voters.

As for Indiana's largest Ag college, I know they recently stopped an already completed renovation of Daniels' office, right after he noticed the public got wind of it. I sure hope someone took the opportunity to count the spoons.


Anonymous said...

It's so weird when we're told that "we have low gas taxes" and we're 7th highest or that there were no tax increases in the first four years when the sales tax went up to 7% to again put us towards the top. Or when we're told we're 3rd best on debt but when you actually read the article, we fall to 21st when you include all the off the books stuff. And like you I have wondered myself, "What took so daggone long?"

Brookston John said...

How about the latest revelation, that Mitch will indeed occupy the President's mansion at Westwood, but Cheri prefers to remain in residence at Geist. Guess they couldn't find a spot for Raoul the Poolboy in Grounds...

Emma said...