November 8, 2017 / 4:28 PM / 2 years ago

Bond issues approved for Houston, other issuers in Tuesday voting

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Houston voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved $1 billion of bonds the city needs to complete a state-approved fix for its financially ailing pension funds, the city controller’s office said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Traffic flows at dusk with the downtown Houston skyline in the background as night falls in Houston, Texas, U.S. on October 3, 2008. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo

The bond measure, which passed with 77 percent of the vote, was one of 370 debt issues totaling $24.5 billion on ballots in 26 U.S. states, according to data company Ipreo.

The taxable pension bonds, which are slated for pricing the week of Dec. 11, are a critical part of a 30-year cost-saving plan signed into law in May by Texas Governor Greg Abbott to address Houston’s $8.2 billion unfunded pension liability.

Voters in the nation’s fourth most populous city also approved four bond issues totaling $495 million for public safety and other projects, the Harris County Clerk reported. Pricing for those bonds is scheduled for Nov. 30, said Max Moll, a spokesman for Houston Controller Chris Brown.

Texas issuers had the most bonds on Tuesday’s ballots at $11.67 billion in 112 issues, according to Ipreo. It said voters across about 26 states approved $21.08 billion worth of bonds in Tuesday’s elections, while voters in 22 states rejected about $3.59 billion in debt issuance.

Results concerning about $1.49 billion of debt in seven states are still pending.

The biggest single bond issue on ballots nationwide, $1.05 billion for the Austin Independent School District in Texas, passed with 72 percent of the vote, the district’s web page announced.

Some other Texas school districts also reported successful bond referendums. The Spring Branch Independent School District said its voters approved $898 million of bonds, while the Katy Independent School District said $609 million of bonds won approval. A spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Independent School District said a $750 million bond referendum passed.

All 10 bond issues totaling just over $1 billion that Dallas put on the ballot for capital improvements passed, according to Dallas County unofficial election results.

North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said voters approved $922 million of bonds “to address pressing capital needs.”

Seven bond referendums totaling $938 million on the city and county of Denver’s ballot passed, according to the city’s website.

Miami voters approved $400 million of bonds to reduce flooding risks and improve affordable housing, according to a Miami-Dade County website.

In Maine, voters approved a constitutional amendment for the state’s pension systems that doubles the length of time over which the state could pay back unfunded liabilities created by investment and other losses to 20 years.

Voters across Ohio approved 87 of 122 public school tax issues, a decrease from last year’s general election, according to a statement from the Ohio School Boards Association.

“Ohio school districts that were unsuccessful on the ballot Tuesday likely will be forced to make tough budget decisions, including new rounds of cuts,” the statement said.

Reporting By Karen Pierog; Additional reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Daniel Bases and Tom Brown

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