WASHINGTON - The amount of private-activity bonds that can be issued under the volume cap will inch up to $14.722 billion in 1994, an increase of less than 1% from the 1993 level of $14.599 billion, Census Bureau population figures show.

The $122.6 million increase in the 1994 volume cap is a slightly smaller rise than the $126 million increase for 1993. The 1994 rise, like that for 1993, is spread evenly across a wide number of states, with the largest gains in Colorado, Arizona, and Georgia.

Connecticut is the only state that will see its volume cap drop in 1994, the second year in a row that Connecticut has experienced a decrease.

The volume cap calculations are based on Report #CB93-219, which was published yesterday by the Census Bureau and estimates U.S. resident population as of July 1, 1993. The Tax Reform Act of 1986, which created the volume cap, requires states to use the report in computing their 1994 volume caps.

Under the volume cap law, each state is permitted to allocate an amount of private-activity bond authority equal to $50 per capita or $150 million, whichever is greater.

This year for the first time the number of states at the $150 million level dropped, to 21 from 22. Oregon saw its population increase to slightly more than 3 million from 2.98 million, pushing it into the $50-per-capita category of states. In 1994, Oregon's volume cap will be $151.6 million.

For the 21 other states that had populations small enough to keep them at the $150 million level in 1993, their caps will remain unchanged in 1994. The District of Columbia is also at the $150 million level.

Among the other 28 states that must compute their cap using the $50 per capita formula, 27 will see increases in their 1994 allotment. The largest rise is a 2.77% increase in Colorado's cap, to $178.3 million. This is the second year in a row that Colorado has had the biggest cap increase.

The other two largest increases in 1994 are a 2.71% rise in Arizona's cap, to $196.8 million, and a 2.49% hike in Georgia's cap, to $345.9 million. Next is Washington, with a 2.3% increase to $262.8 million; Texas, with a 2.12% increase, to $901.6 million; Virginia, with a 1.79% increase, to $324.6 million; and Tennessee, with a 1.51% increase, to $255.0 million.

The largest dollar increase is in Texas, where the volume cap will rise by $18.7 million in 1994. Next is California, with a $17.2-million rise to $1.561 billion, an increase of 1.1%.

Connecticut's volume cap will drop by 0.06%, to $163.9 million in 1994. Last year, the state's cap had dropped 0.36%, to $164 million from $164.6 million.

The private-activity bond cap has been a source of controversy since it was imposed on states in 1986. Studies by The Bond Buyer have found that while the small states at the $150 million level have relatively few problems living within the cap's confines, states that must compute their cap using the $50-per-capita formula generally do not have enough private-activity bond authority to go around.

In its population report, the Census Bureau said the United States population grew in 1993 by 1.1% to 257.9 million people, expanding by slightly more than 2.8 million since July 1992. Nevada was the country's fastest growing state, posting a gain of 3.9%. But Nevada's cap did not increase, because the state's population of 1.39 million kept it at the $150 million level.

As in past years, the West saw the largest population gains in the country in 1993. Along with Nevada, other states with substantial increases were Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. States with the smallest increases included Massachusetts, Maine, and North Dakota.

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