WASHINGTON — A bill pending in the Virginia House of Delegates that would authorize $407 million of revenue bonds for the construction and renovation of state college facilities falls far short of legislation containing Gov. Tim Kaine’s $1.6 billion education bond proposal.
The bill, introduced last month by House Appropriations Chairman Del. Lacey Putney, I-Bedford, would not require the voter approval needed in Kaine’s plan.
Under Putney’s bill, the revenue bonds would be issued by the Virginia College Building Authority and therefore would not need voter approval. In contrast, the vast majority of Kaine’s proposed bonds would constitute general obligation debt, which must be approved by voters in a referendum.
Furthermore, Putney’s bill includes an “emergency clause,” which means that if it wins at least 80 percent of votes in the House and Senate, it would go into effect if Kaine signed it into law. Most bills passed by the general assembly do not go into effect until July 1, according to a spokesperson with the governor’s office.
Kaine’s proposal would only authorize $126.5 million be issued by the VCBA, and the remainder of the bonds could not be issued until voters approve them in the November 2008 elections.
Under both proposals, bonds would be issued by the authority as soon as possible.
In addition to the $400 million that would become available immediately, Putney’s plan calls for another $650 million to be appropriated in fiscal 2009 for secondary education projects still in the planning phase.
Another $650 million would be appropriated for projects in 2010. However, while the 2009 appropriations are expected to cover all the costs for the proposed projects, the 2010 projects are too early in the planning phase to determine the exact amount of funding they would require.
In addition to the college bonds, Putney’s proposal authorizes $152.5 million of bonds to the Virginia Public Building Authority to finance the acquisition, construction, and renovation of three government buildings. Putney’s bill has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
Bills reflecting Kaine’s proposal are being considered in both the state House and Senate. The Senate version currently is pending before its Finance Committee, while the House version is in its Appropriations Committee.
Virginia’s biannual budget bill, which will cover fiscal 2009 and 2010, also includes bond provisions for the VCBA and VPBA. If passed, the budget will authorize $214.4 million of bonds for the VCBA, with another $493.4 million of bonds for the VPBA.