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ORLANDO-Standard & Poor’s Corp. sees Florida as an ongoing growth engine as it places a AA rating on the state’s newly issued $300 million Department of Transportation right-of-way acquisition and bridge construction bonds. The bonds went on sale Sept. 22.

“The state has solid economic growth prospects over the long term, with a strong competitive position in the Southeast,” S&P analysts Robin Prunty and Karl Jacob find in a prepared statement. “Florida’s debt burden has expanded over the past five years, but bonding is planned and managed centrally through the state’s Division of Bond Finance, and debt levels remain within the parameters of the debt affordability guidelines.”

The New York-based bond-rating agency also gave a AA rating to the state’s outstanding debt. The new bonds are secured by the state’s pledge of certain fuel tax revenues that are transferred from the state transportation trust fund.

“The outlook on the bonds is stable, based on the state’s strong track record of active budget management and strong budgetary reserves,” the S&P report states.

The AA rating “reflects the state’s strong and growing financial reserve levels; stable revenue performance, which sets Florida apart from most other states; a service-based economy with growth in employment, population and gross state product continuing to outpace the national economy; and average income levels,” the analysts note.

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