Texas voters back $35 billion in construction projects, leading nation ` Texas

In November’s election, voters across the country approved $57 billion in loans for construction projects, on track in a single election in the 10-year history of S&P Global Intelligence, which tracks the data, with voters in Texas, by far the most agreed of any state.

Voters from 39 Texas counties approved more than $35 billion for school buildings, libraries, sanitation facilities, soccer stadiums, parks, roads and other projects.

Experts said the explosion in Texas infrastructure borrowing was largely a product of population growth and the pandemic. Many projects were delayed during the worst days of the COVID-19 crisis.

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“Statewide, I think there’s a lot of catching up to do,” said Sherri Greenberg, a former state representative who is now a fellow at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. “We’re done two years of COVID, and so many things have been shut down, right? And I don’t just mean businesses and restaurants, I mean the economy, the government, all sorts of plans have been put on hold.”

“People have resurfaced and there are infrastructure needs,” she said.

Meanwhile, Congress has passed multiple rounds of stimulus and infrastructure financing that have flooded local governments with cash, and interest rates and construction costs are rising, making now a good time to start construction.

“For the most part, most states are in really good shape financially right now,” said John Diamond, who studies public finance at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. “So I think they’re looking for ways to put their money to work, and they feel like they have the resources now to fund these longer-term projects.”

Diamond said many cities and counties are hoping to freeze interest rates now before they potentially go higher.

Of the 228 project proposals on the ballot, 188 were accepted by voters – a success rate of 82 percent. The rejected projects would have caused further expenditures of 2 billion US dollars.

By dollar amount, the approval rating was about 94 percent, higher than both the national average and the per-project success rate, suggesting that larger projects are more likely to be approved by voters than smaller projects.