State spending measures down in November elections

Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:17pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Arkansas and Texas are the only states with meaty fiscal measures to be decided by voters in November's off-year elections, according to Standard & Poor's Ratings Service on Tuesday.

"U.S. voters have much less to decide this year than last year," the credit-ratings group said in a commentary. "Standard & Poor's Ratings Services does not believe that any single ballot measure will have an immediate credit impact on the ratings of any state or local government."

Only Arkansas and Texas have major bond measures on the ballot, S&P said.

The Arkansas Highway Financing Act would allow cities, counties and other local entities to issue bonds to bolster retail projects. But S&P said the measure, if approved, would have few immediate effects on the credit ratings of Arkansas issuers.

Texas' Proposition 2 would triple to $6 billion a cap on general obligation debt that the Texas Water Development Board can have outstanding. Any new bonds would be backed by the state government, which has $9 billion of general obligation debt outstanding.

"We do not believe the passage of this proposition would have an immediate impact on the credit quality of either the state or the TWDB bonds outstanding," S&P said.

Other measures on November ballots include a proposal in Colorado to raise taxes temporarily, gambling-related measures in Maine and New Jersey, and a bid in Washington state to put aside more money for the state government's "rainy day" fund.

(Reporting by Michael Connor in Miami; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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