U.S. Voters Set to Approve at Least $14 Billion of Bond Sales

American voters were poised to approve at least $14 billion of municipal-bond measures on ballots that will fund hospital renovations, school upgrades and library construction, preliminary election returns show.

In total, voters weighed proposals to issue about $45 billion of bonds, the lowest in a presidential election since 2012, according to data compiled by IHS Markit. The amount of borrowing was reduced due to the uncertainty cast by the coronavirus pandemic, which has left governments nationwide bracing for big budget deficits as tax collections fall.

Those that did appear on the ballot were generally approved, with early results showing more winning than failing.

Los Angeles voters were approving $7 billion of borrowing for the city’s school district by 71%, according to county election returns. Big debt sales for the Harborview Medical Center in King County, Washington, passed, as did two measures that would raise $1.3 billion for San Antonio, Texas schools, the local NBC television affiliate reported.

Local governments hesitant to burden residents during such uncertainty struck billions worth of bonds from ballots this year, locking them out of public debt markets until the next election, at a time when municipal rates are scraping multi-decade lows.

Here are some of the largest bond referendums approved at the polls so far:

WASHINGTON

  • King County: Voters approved a $1.7 billion bond to fund improvements to Harborview Medical Center

OREGON

  • Portland Public Schools: Voters appeared likely to approve a $1.2 billion bond for school rebuilds, modernizations and safety projects

TEXAS

  • San Antonio Independent School District: Voters approved a $1.2 billion bond measure for school improvements

And here are notable measures that voters have rejected:

CALIFORNIA:

  • San Diego: Voters did not appear likely to approve a $900 million measure to finance affordable housing

TEXAS

  • Texas’s Northwest Independent School District voters were defeating a proposed $938 million debt measure, county returns show

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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