DALLAS - Texas state agencies and universities expect to issue about $2 billion in bonds and commercial paper for fiscal 1995, as debt sales continue to slow down from peak times, according to Bond Review Board estimates.
In its annual report released yesterday, the Texas agency said its survey of more than 20 state-level issuers indicated that the agencies plan to sell about $1.45 billion in new-money debt and refund about $595 million in existing debt for fiscal 1995, which began Sept. 1.
"It's settling down to the routine type of bond issues," said Albert Bacarisse, the executive director of the Texas Bond Review Board, which oversees sales of state-level debt. "The number of refundings and the big prison bonds are coming down."
In the past, Texas bond sales have been buoyed by a large number of refundings and the most aggressive prison-building program in the nation, supported by $3 billion in bond authorizations given by state voters in recent years.
Now, however, for the second consecutive fiscal year, the refundings are continuing to fall, following a rise in interest rates. The prison program is also, slowing down after an acceleration to help relieve overcrowding in Texas county jails.
"The majority of the prison building program is behind us," Bacarisse said.
During the past fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, prison bonds accounted for almost half of the new-money bonds issued in the state. This fiscal year, they will only account for about one-fifth of all new-money bonds and commercial paper.
In fiscal 1994, Texas state agencies and universities sold $1.5 billion in bonds, comprising $988 million in new-money debt and $988 million in refundings. The Texas Public Finance Authority issued $459 million of that debt, primarily for the Department of Criminal Justice.
Although the Texas agencies surveyed gave estimates that exceed the fiscal 1994 bond sales, Bacarisse said the total issuance could be equivalent this fiscal year because usually there is a fall-off of about $500,000 from the projected figures. For example, last fiscal year, about $2.3 billion in debt issuance was predicted.
"State leaders want to make sure that all the bond issuance is absolutely essential," Bacarisse said.
Even if all expected issuance occurs in Texas, it still would mark a decline from fiscal 1993, when low interest rates and prison construction buoyed sales. During that fiscal year, about $2.5 billion in bonds and commercial paper were sold. In 1986, more than A billion in bonds were sold by Texas state agencies and universities.
This fiscal year, about one-third of the $1.45 billion of the new-money debt has been issued since Sept. I if this year, Bacarisse said. Issues sold include $367.84 million in bonds through the Veterans Land Board for home loans and refunding, and $84.1 million bonds through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to finance low-interest mortgages.
Some of the larger issues planned during the next eight months include:
* The Texas Public Finance Authority plans to sell $301 million in general obligation commercial paper, primarily for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Most proceeds would be used for the prison program.
* Texas universities plan to issue a total of about $290 million in bonds and commercial paper to finance constructions, improvement, and renovation projects, as well as equipment purchases.
* The Texas Public Finance Authority plans to issue $300 million in GO refunding bonds to redeem commercial paper that is now outstanding.
* The Texas Water Development Board plans to issue about $150 million lion in revenue bonds for a state revolving fund. The fund provides money to finance construction of waste-water treatment projects throughout the state.
* Texas A&M University plans two issues - one for $100 million and another for for $80 million - to refund commercial paper and variable rate bonds.
Despite the increasing amount of debt, Texas has a low state debt burden compared with other states. It ranks 38th among all states and ninth among the 10 most populous states in net tax-supported debt per capita, according to a 1994 report by Moody's Investors Service.
Moody's rates Texas state debt Aa. Standard & Poor's Corp. rates it AA, and Fitch Investors Services AA-plus.