U.S. Voters Backing at Least $24.4 Billion of Bond Sales

(Bloomberg) -- Voters across the U.S. were backing at least $24.4 billion of bond sales to support school construction and infrastructure upgrades including road and bridge repairs, led by multi-billion-dollar measures in California.

Some larger bond initiatives are failing to win voter support, with at least $19.2 billion of proposed borrowing shot down at the polls. About 52 percent of California voters rejected an $8.9 billion water bond measure, with all but 3 percent of the precincts reporting, while in Colorado dueling $6 billion and $3.5 billion measures for roads failed to gain voter approval.

The nationwide election brought about $76.3 billion of bond referendums from California to Maine, the most in an election since 2006, according to data from market research company Ipreo by IHS Markit. That signaled an increasing willingness by states and local governments to borrow for needed public works while they reap the financial gains from the nearly decade-long economic expansion.

The bulk of bond proposals were in California, where nearly $16.4 billion of state borrowing was proposed to upgrade water infrastructure, support housing programs and renovate children’s hospitals.

U.S. Voters Backing at Least $24.4 Billion of Bond Sales

The scale of the ballot propositions mark a shift away from the fiscal austerity that gripped states and cities after the last recession, when they put needed infrastructure work on hold while contending with large budget shortfalls, even if some met with disapproval from voters. The deficits governments once dealt with have largely disappeared as states benefit from growing tax collections, allowing them to put more money into construction projects, despite President Donald Trump’s failure to enact a big infrastructure program like the one he campaigned upon.

The referendums come after the pace of new debt issues slowed this year, in part because of a surge late last year before Trump’s tax overhaul pulled the tax-exemption for bonds sold for a key type of refinancing. The support at the ballot box is unlikely to herald a sharp increase in debt issues, however, because the securities are often sold years after they’re approved by voters.

Here is a list of some of the major bond referendums getting approval at the polls:

CALIFORNIA

  • California: $4B for housing programs and veterans’ loans
  • San Diego USD: $3.5B for security improvements and plumbing (73% of precincts reporting, was winning 61% to 39% as of 1:20 p.m. ET)
  • California: $2B for homelessness prevention housing
  • California: $1.5B for expansions of children’s hospitals
  • San Francisco: $425M for seawall improvements
  • Peralta Community College District: $800M for facilities and technology
  • Mt San Antonio Community College: $750M for upgrades
  • Santa Clara USD: $720M for facility reconstruction
  • Chaffey Community College District: $700M to upgrade classrooms and labs
  • West Valley-Mission Community College: $698M to update facilities and technology
  • San Jose: $650M for infrastructure repairs
  • San Francisco: $525M for seawall improvements
  • Santa Monica-Malibu USD: $485M for improvements
  • San Bernardino Community College: $470M for upgrades
  • Palo Alto USD: $460M for safety improvements
  • Sweetwater Union HSD: $403M for repairs and upgrades

NEW JERSEY

  • New Jersey: Voters OK’d $500M in bonding for vocational school expansions, school safety and water infrastructure

NORTH CAROLINA

  • Wake County: Voters were likely to pass $548M in bonding for school construction

OREGON

  • Metro: Voters were poised to approve about $653M in bonds for affordable housing

TEXAS

  • Collin County: Voters were poised to approve $600M in bonds for non-tolled highway construction
  • Fort Bend ISD: $992.6M in bonding for construction, security and technology
  • Frisco ISD: Voters looked likely to approve $695M in bonds for growth, maintenance and renovations
  • Tarrant County: Voters looked likely to pass $800M in bonds for County hospital expansion
  • Round Rock ISD: voters appear to have approved $508 million
  • Alvin ISD: Approved $480.5M for school improvements

WASHINGTON

  • Spokane SD #81: $495M for construction and improvements
  • Bethel SD #403: $443M for construction and improvements

And here are some of the notable measures that voters have rejected:

ARIZONA

  • Pima County: $430M for roads and highway construction

CALIFORNIA

  • California: $8.877B for water infrastructure and watershed conservation
  • San Jose: $450M for housing

COLORADO

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