Oregon lawmakers passed an $800 million bonding package to fund construction projects, including the completion of a psychiatric hospital in Junction City that had been delayed.
The legislature, which adjourned its 2013 session on Monday after approving the plan, missed its initial target date of June 28 by about a week, but finished before the constitutional deadline of July 13.
The $800 million bonding package includes an $80 million allocation — the largest in the two-year construction package — to complete the construction of the 174-bed psychiatric hospital, putting it on track to open in April 2015. The hospital was part of a larger project that broke ground in 2008.
Other local projects in the package include $13 million in bonds backed by state lottery dollars for Lane Transit District’s West Eugene EmX expansion, about $20 million for expansions of classrooms and the science library at the University of Oregon, and $8 million toward construction at Lane Community College.
Lawmakers also gave initial approval to $10 million in lottery-backed bonds for the construction of a hotel at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
Portland Metro Council officials had been seeking $12 million in state bonds to go toward building a 600-room Hyatt Regency Hotel, estimated to cost a total of $193 million. Officials said the project, once completed, would generate around $5 million per year in income taxes.
State Treasurer Ted Wheeler said the capital construction strategy keeps Oregon within “prudent debt limits.”
“Lawmakers approved a balanced budget and stayed within the state’s conservative bonding capacity, which should keep Oregon’s credit ratings strong,” Wheeler said in a statement. “This means the state will continue to obtain bonds with low interest rates – saving taxpayer dollars now and for the life of the investment.”
The legislature approved the issuance of $1.7 billion of general obligation bonds during the 2013-2015 period, which includes $426 million for the Department of Administrative Services, $454 million for the Department of Transportation, and $125 million for the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Department.
They also approved $1.9 billion of total revenue bonds and $665 million of total pass-through revenue.
Oregon currently has two bond sales planned this year, according to James Sink, a spokesperson for the Oregon State Treasury. A tax anticipation notes sale is planned for later this month, and an Oregon Department of Transportation revenue bond sale is planned for late September. He said further information about these sales will be made available shortly.
Sink said the treasury department will continue to update the calendar as it receives information from state agencies, now that the legislature has adjourned.