Virginia voters have approved by comfortable margins five statewide bond proposals totaling $125 million for educational institutions and correctional, mental health, park, recreation and port facilities.
It was the second time in nine years that Virginia voters have overwhelmingly approved a bond package. In 1968, when the state abandoned its long-hallowed, pay-as-you go fiscal policy, voters approved an $81 million bond package. The five issues approved Tuesday were assembled earlier this year by Gov. Mills E. Godwin and the state General Assembly.
Four of the five proposals were approved by at least 2-to-1 margins. The ports issue received the most opposition, but even it won approval by a 3-to-2 margin.
Votes in only 1.524 of the state's 1,837 precincts had been counted as of yesterday although it was apparent the bond issues were approved.
"I think (the voters) were convinced that the construction items were urgently needed," said Bruce C. Miller, director of Virginians for Bonds, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that spent $114,000 pushing for the bonds.
The bonds should be ready for sale by Feb. 1, Miller said, and the more than 60 projects should be under way soon after.
Opposition to the bonds was scattered among a few small taxpayers' groups that traditionally are opposed to bond issues.
"We had a pretty credible showing," said Kenneth White of Nelson County, who heads the Virginia Taxpayers Association. "A number of the proposals were defeated in counties where there's grass roots understanding of the issues," such as in Prince Edward, Nelson and Amherst counties, White said.
Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax counties approved all five state bond issues. Loudoun and Prince William county voters approved all the state proposals except the bond issue for ports. That issue won by a 2-to-1 margin in Alexandria, which one was an important port town.
The bond issues approved will provide $86.5 million for educational institutions, $21.5 million for correctional facilities, $4 million for mental health and mental retardation institutions, $5 million for state parks and recreation and $8 million for port improvements.
Arlington voters also approved their own $15.2 million bond issue, allotting funds for improvements of water storage, storm drainage, neighborhood conservation and local parks.
Loudoun County voters defeated their $1.9 million bond issue, which would have gone for expansion and renovation of county buildings.