RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina government’s ability to borrow money while remaining fiscally sound keeps improving despite the economic challenges from the coronavirus, according to an annual report released Tuesday.

The Debt Affordability Study calculates how much additional debt the state can incur and remain within self-imposed limits that the study committee believes will ensure the state retains top scores from credit-rating agencies. The triple-A ratings keep borrowing costs low.

The report  projects the state could approve $3.22 billion in bonds this year — or $1.46 billion annually for the next five years — and remain below an overall debt-to-revenue ratio goal. That compares to debt capacity of $2.04 billion in 2020 in last year’s report, or $1.1 billion annually over five years.

The expanding debt capacity could help Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and legislators from both parties build the case to place a multibillion-dollar bond referendum on the ballot soon for schools, building construction and other infrastructure.

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