The state sold $1.28 billion in bonds last week, fulfilling the commitment of the governor and the General Assembly to the major capital needs facing the state including, k-12 education, transportation, Board of Regents institutions, technical colleges, the state’s natural resources and funds to continue protecting Georgia’s citizens.
The bond issue earned the state its continued AAA rating by all three rating agencies, which praised Georgia’s conservative budgeting, replenishing of the state’s reserves and moderate debt level. The sale included some unsold bonds from years, including the final bond for the Savannah harbor deepening totaling $35 million.
K-12 bonds included in FY2016 budget
The $1.1 billion bonded indebtedness obligated in the fiscal year 2016 budget included the state’s continued participation in the construction of new schools around the state. Georgia’s capital outlay program is recognized as one of the most progressive in the U.S., while in some states, local systems are on their own in providing for new and renovated facilities. This year’s k-12 capital outlay program totals $271.5 million, or 24 percent of the total bond package authorized. This total includes capital outlay categories classified as regular, low-wealth, additional specific low wealth, some $20 million for 259 school buses, vocational equipment statewide, state school improvements, as well as improvements at the FFA/FHA camp at Covington. Additionally, Georgia’s GNET Educational and Therapeutic Support network received $12 million. Last week’s bond sale totaled $201.5 million in k-12 bonds sold.
Included in the Regents total also was funding totaling $10.06 million for state matching funds to fund construction and renovation of six libraries around the state — Villa Rica, Marietta, Harris County, Folkston, Harlem and Cumming.
Board of Regents and Technical School construction/equipment
Bond projects included for Regents institutions around the state totaled some $300.7 million. New construction for the Board of Regents totaled $141 million at Savannah State, University of Georgia, Georgia Southern, Gwinnett State College and Albany State. The balance funded planning, renovations and equipment for various projects around the state.
Technical colleges in FY16 received $65.2 million for college and career academies, “world-class” equipment statewide, and various renovations and planning projects around the state. The recent bond sale offered $93.3 million in technical college projects and $276.7 million in Regents’ projects.
Public safety renovations, equipment, vehicles
The Department of Public Safety totaled $10.5 million for vehicles and equipment and the Public Safety Training Center received $2.3 million for instructional equipment and vehicle maintenance equipment. The Department of Juvenile Justice had equipment and facility improvements and renovations as well as security enhancement totaling $13.1 million. The Department of Corrections will receive $30.3 million for renovations, repairs, hardening, equipment and locking controls as well as replacement vehicles (all 5 year bonds). An expansion of the morgue facility at GBI Headquarters in DeKalb County will cost $9.6 million, and along with other funds for building improvements and investigative vehicles, will altogether total $11.0 million.
Agriculture, forestry, natural resources and water conservation funded
The state farmers market received funding to construct a wholesale cooler warehouse at the market in Forest Park. New vehicles and two mobile labs also were funded in bonds. From bonds, $4.4 million will go toward replacing firefighting equipment for the Forestry Commission, as well as provide for new construction of facilities.
The Department of Natural Resources will receive $36.1 million for facility major improvements, construction and renovations at DNR parks and facilities around the state, as well as for replacement vehicles. Also included is $9.5 million for land acquisition and for a new helicopter.
The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority will receive $10 million to match Federal Clean and Drinking Water Programs. The Jekyll Island Authority’s Youth and Learning Center will receive $5 million for construction and equipment. This is the old 4-H camp.
Bonded investments in transportation
Included is this category was $4.6 million for dike improvements on the Savannah River to match federal funds for fill placement. Rail improvements included $6.8 million continued rehabilitation of state-owned rail lines in southwest Georgia, Emanuel County, Walker County and bridges on the Oconee River. The first year of a four-year commitment for state funded bonds for bridge construction included $100 million in the FY16 budget and $75 million to assist community transit needs.
Georgia’s strong bond rating has insured the state borrows funds at historically low rates. For example, Gov. Deal announced on June 10 that the state sold five-year tax-exempt bonds at a 1.21 percent rate, sold 10-year tax-exempt bonds at 1.93 percent and 3.08 percent for 20-year tax-exempt bonds for a blended rate of 2.98 percent. Taxable bonds sold for 1.68 percent, 2.59 percent, and 3.77 percent respectively for a blended rate of 3.55 percent.
Legislation and final action may be accessed online at www.legis.ga.gov and the state budget can be accessed online at the Senate Budget and Evaluation Web site www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/Home.aspx
I may be reached at
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E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
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