ATLANTA -- Louisiana is planning a competitive sale of $148 million of new-money general obligation bonds at the November meeting of the State Bond Commission, the commission's director said yesterday.
The state is also gearing up for the negotiated sale of about $100 million of revenue bonds through the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, the first phase of a $225 million borrowing program, said the official, Rae Logan.
Logan said she expects the commission to approve a bond resolution for the GO issue at its October meeting, to be held next Thursday, with the sale to take place during the commission's Nov. 18 meeting.
The $148 million deal, which will cover capital-spending projects, will be followed with a $50 million offering between February and April, Logan said.
"Hopefully, this is the start of a cycle that will get us on track to sell GOs twice a year, in the fall and spring," he said.
Freda S. Johnson, financial adviser to the commission, said yesterday that Louisiana could also sell about $300 million of GO refunding debt sometime in the spring of next year. The state last sold GO refunding bonds in February of this year, with a $479.9 million issue. At the time, Louisiana also sold its last new-money GO issue, a $125 million borrowing.
Under legislation passed earlier this year, lawmakers put a cap of about $200 million on how much new-money, tax-supported debt Louisiana can sell in a year.
Plans for an upcoming negotiated sale of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District debt will be discussed next Wednesday at a meeting of the commission's free subcommittee, according to Johnson.
At that time, she said, the subcommittee could approve the wording of separate requests for proposals to be sent out to prospective senior managers and co-managers.
Johnson said the timing of the first sale depends on how quickly district officials want to move forward with various construction projects. The projects include renovations of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans and construction of a 20,000-seat sports arena behind the Superdome.
The sale, which will probably occur during the first quarter of 1994, could include $60 million in refunding bonds and about $60 in new-money debt, Johnson said.
Earlier this year, Louisiana's Legislature authorized the Stadium and Exposition District to sell up to $215 million of bonds: $155 million of new-money bonds and $60 million of refunding debt. The lawmakers stipulated that money for interest and principal payments could come only from the 4% occupancy tax charged by Orleans and Jefferson parishes, which make up the New Orleans metropolitan area.
The district last sold bonds in 1976, when it issued $134 million of revenue debt to refund bonds sold to finance construction of the Superdome, which was completed in 1975.
District bonds will not be counted toward the state's debt limit, Johnson said.
Speaking of the state's debt-limit law, Logan said she expects voters this Saturday to approve a proposal that would write most of the legislation into the state's constitution.
The debt-limit law, which became effective July 1, caps issuance of tax-supported state bonds in Louisiana to an amount that could be serviced by 6% of state revenues, excluding federal aid. The state will have until the 2004 fiscal year to bring its debt load into proportion with the revenue figure. The debt-limit percentage could be waived by a vote of two-thirds of the elected members of both Houses.
Unlike the legislation, however, the proposed constitutional amendment does not contain year-by-year issuance guidelines or a definition of bonds covered.
Louisiana's approximately $2.5 billion of general obligation debt is rated Baa1 by Moody's Investors Service and A by Standard & Poor's Corp.