DALLAS - Standard & Poor's Corp. has affirmed its A-minus rating on $250 million of lease revenue bonds Texas sold last December to help fund construction of the Superconducting Super Collider project near Dallas.
"S&P believes the lease debt is adequately secured," despite a June 17 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to eliminate federal funding of the project, the agency said in a statement.
The agency noted that $212 million of bond proceeds from the December 1991 sale remains unspent. Of that $149 million is in project accounts and $63 million is held in an account for the U.S. Department of Energy, which is building the $8.5 billion project.
The issuer, the Texas National Research Laboratory Commission Financing Corp., has the option for an extraordinary redemption of the outstanding lease certificates from bonds proceeds, state funds, or both.
"It is anticipated that the board will restrict further project funding until the issue of federal funding is resolved," the agency said.
The Senate is expected to take up the matter in August. Project officials said last week it is likely to be late this year before the matter is resolved, though they believe Congress will ultimately restore most of the $483 million in fiscal 1993 funding eliminated in the House.
The bonds are also rated single-A by Fitch Investors Service and Moody's Investors Service. Both agencies are reviewing the issue.
The lease bonds are secured by appropriations of the Texas Legislature and are not directly linked to federal funding. Texas has also sold $250 million of general obligation bonds as part of a planned $1 billion in debt issues to finance the state's share of the project.