CHICAGO - Financial advisory firms interested in working with Wisconsin on its various bonding programs and obligations have until July 30 to submit their qualifications to the state.

The financial advisory request for qualifications follows an RFQ issued for underwriters that closed July 15. The state does not typically use an adviser on its competitive transactions but does use advisers on negotiated sales.

The state also will consult with its qualified advisers on legislative consideration of new bond or borrowing initiatives, to assist in rating agency meetings, and to provide initial review and comment on various investment banking matters and ideas that are periodically presented to the state.

Issuance planned over the next several years could involve development of new borrowing programs or future types of variable-rate instruments. Given states' fiscal struggles across the country, Wisconsin is asking potential advisers to provide an example in which the firm worked extensively with an issuer and a rating agency to address questions or concerns related to an issuer's rating.

The state also asks for a firm's experience working on taxable Build America Bonds and potential tax credit bonds permitted under the federal stimulus.

Gov. Jim Doyle recently signed a two-year, $61.8 billion state budget that authorizes $3.58 billion of bonding in the coming years and wipes out a $6.6 billion deficit through a mix of federal stimulus funds, spending cuts, tax and fee increases, and debt restructuring.

The debt authorization permits $2.9 billion of general obligation borrowing and another $680 million of revenue-supported bonds. The figure includes $285 million of borrowing to restructure existing debt, pushing off some near-term debt payments.

The state's GO ratings are AA from Standard & Poor's, AA-minus from Fitch Ratings, and Aa3 with a negative outlook from Moody's Investors Service.

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