Voters across the country went to the polls yesterday and approved $6.71 billion of municipal bond proposals, nearly two-thirds of the $10.18 billion of bonds for which election results were available, according to data compiled by The Bond Buyer.
Yesterday's general election was the fourth-largest ever, in terms of dollar amounts, for bond submissions and approvals since The Bond Buyer began tracking Election Day results in 1946. It was the busiest election on record, however, with 540 separate ballot proposals. Voters approved 289 of the 469 issues for which results were available yesterday.
Yesterday's bond approval percentage of 65.9% fell in between the off-year Election Day figures of 73.3% in 1993 and 70.2% in 1991, and the congressional Election Day figures of 62.1% in 1992 and 40.6% in 1990. It also continues the current decline in approvals that followed the strong showings of the 1980s, when voters in every year but one from 1980 through 1989, routinely approved 80% or more of bond proposals on Election Day.
Nearly one-quarter of the bonds approved yesterday were in Michigan, as voters in Detroit approved $1.5 billion of school district bonds -- the day's largest issue. In all, Michigan voters approved $1.52 billion, or 97.3%, of the $1.56 billion of bonds on their ballots.
It was an entirely different story in California, where voters across the state cast ballots on $1.64 billion of bonds and approved only $260 million, or 15.8%. The state's proposal for $1 billion of passenger-rail and clean air bonds and Fresno Unified School District's $215 million offering were defeated, although Oakland Unified School District's $170 million bond question was approved.
Voters in Washington State were only slightly more approving of new bond debt, approving $372 million, or 39.6%, of the $938 million of bond proposals on their ballot. While voters in Seattle approved $332 million of Seattle School District No. 1 bonds, they rejected $278 million for renovating libraries and other public facilities.
Voters in Nevada's Clark County School District rendered a split decision as well, approving a $600 million bond issue but turning down a companion $305 million proposal.
Oregon voters approved $603 million, or 83%, of the $727 million of bonds on their ballots. Leading the way was a $475 million bond proposal in Multuomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties, to finance a light-rail transit line.
Voters cast ballots on $6.25 billion of school bond issues yesterday and approved $4.54 billion, or 72.6%. Bond proposals for transportation and utilities met with greater success -- voters approved roughly 96% of the bond proposals in both categories. The catchall "general purpose" category, however, fared far more poorly; this category, which includes multiple-purpose issues such as the $1 billion California proposal and accounted for $1.45 billion of yesterday's submissions, saw only $203 million, or 14%, approved.
Results for 71 issues, totaling $375 million, were not immediately available late yesterday. The largest of these was a Warwick, R.I, ballot question for $130 million of sewer system bonds.