LOS ANGELES - Oregonians can expect a flurry of infrastructure construction and more than $40 million in cost savings after a busy issuance slate the first six months of 2017.
The $1.9 billion of issuance wrapped up the public bonding approved by the 2015 legislature, Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read announced. The new bonds were issued in eight separate revenue bond and general obligation sales over the first half of the calendar year. The debt issued over that span is $1.2 billion new money and about $700 million was for refunding existing debt to save an estimated $40.7 million in interest costs over time.
“These new bonds will finance much-needed affordable housing, make schools safer, improve university research capacity, expand our highways and – at the same time – Treasury is saving taxpayers millions,” said Read, who oversees the state’s debt financing activities. “We are mobilizing Oregon’s construction trades to build vital infrastructure and improve our quality of life for generations.”
Among the uses of the bond funds are the second phase of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health Sciences University, seismic rehabilitation grants for Oregon public schools, courthouse projects in Multnomah, Lane and Jefferson counties, higher education projects such as the new Center for Excellence in Engineering & Technology at Oregon Institute of Technology, highway improvements, and affordable housing and mental health housing projects. The $1.9 billion run of issuance kicked off with the state’s $476.4 million GO bond sale Feb. 8, and wrapped up with $335.7 million of Highway User Revenue Bonds May 18.
Read applauded the work of the Treasury’s Debt Management Division, led by Laura Lockwood-McCall, and said that the bond funds will spark even more economic activity in Oregon because the state money generated by the sales accounts for only a part of much of the overall spending. Universities, school districts and local governments also supply matching funds. The state carries GO ratings of AA-plus from both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, and Aa1 from Moody’s Investors Service.
The Oregon State Debt Policy Advisory Commission makes recommendations about how much public money should be devoted to repay GO and lottery-backed debt, in order to keep annual payments at a manageable level. The legislature decides whether and how to allot the available public debt within the debt capacity. The legislature is currently at work on a new two-year budget, and which will provide a new bonding capacity through 2019.