PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Massachusetts officials promote best-practices disclosure, and now Treasurer Steven Grossman's office has the technical means to do so.
The state on Monday unveiled its www.massbondholder.com website which, according to Grossman, positions the Bay State as a national leader in investor disclosure. "We're very excited," he said in an interview on Monday, two days before a scheduled $525 million general obligation bond sale in two series.
The website provides more than 30,000 pages of downloadable reports, audits and summaries from different state offices including Grossman's, the executive office for administration and finance, the revenue department, the comptroller's office and the state pension fund.
According to Grossman, the new website also provides investors with new tools such as software that enhances the customized analysis of financial data.
"The old way was not a model appropriate for an economy in the technology era," said Grossman, saying the culling of data had been too laborsome for investors. "Now, it doesn't matter where you are. An investor with deep interest in Massachusetts can get real-time information, whether it's on a desktop or an iPhone."
In addition, said Grossman, the new site benefits small and retail investors. "Under the old setup, you had to pull up a PDF and manually re-key the data. Why burden the investor with this kind of work?"
Grossman said that shortly after taking office in 2011, he and assistant treasurer for debt management Colin MacNaught discussed how to improve the site. "Colin was thinking about how to create something top-notch that would make Massachusetts the best state in the country for disclosure," he said.
Wednesday's competitive sale will consist of $450 million in Series A tax-exempt bonds and about $75 million in Series B taxable bonds. According to MacNaught, proceeds from the smaller amount will fund capital projects for which the commonwealth cannot issue tax-exempt bonds.
Moody's Investors Service rates the bonds Aa1, while Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings assign AA-plus ratings. Massachusetts has roughly $19 billion in debt outstanding.
"The rating reflects Massachusetts' strong financial management practices and its demonstrated willingness to balance its budget when necessary through spending cuts," said Moody's, which also cited education and health care sectors that generate high wages and helped mitigate job losses in the downturn.
According to Fitch, Massachusetts' personal income per capita, at 129% of the U.S. average, ranks second nationwide.
The three rating agencies, however, also warned about debt levels that are among the nation's highest, and low pension funding levels. But Standard & Poor's added: "While we view Massachusetts' total postretirement liabilities as relatively high, we believe the commonwealth has been actively managing these liabilities with a focus on cost control and reform in recent years."