CHICAGO — Missouri will take competitive bids on about $285 million of revenue refunding bonds on Aug. 2 and then follow up with roughly $175 million of general obligation refunding bonds on Sept. 11, state officials said Monday.
The issuers of the bonds on behalf of the state, the Board of Public Commissioners and the Board of Fund Commissioners, approved the transactions at meetings last week. The deals will accomplish both double-digit percentage present-value savings and restructuring savings of $44 million that the state will take up front for budgetary relief.
The triple-A rated state is a rare borrower and is not planning any new money this year. “With these savings, we are again seeing the benefits of Missouri earning the highest marks from the top credit rating agencies,” Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement.
Columbia Capital Management is advisor on the competitive deals. Gilmore & Bell PC is bond counsel and Fields & Brown LLC is co-bond counsel, said Stacy Neal, director of accounting in the state’s office of administration.
Rating agencies frown on one-time maneuvers such as debt restructuring that push off near-term debt maturities as a sign of fiscal stress.
Neal stressed that the state’s restructurings this year and last have been modest in size, incorporated traditional present-value savings and, in some cases, shortened the original maturity schedule. Those factors have helped offset negative commentaries.
The August issue through the public buildings board is expected to generate 10% present-value savings, and achieve $20 million of savings in fiscal 2013 and another $15 million in fiscal 2014. The GO refunding selling next month through the fund commissioners board is expected to achieve more than 13% in present-value savings and generate $24 million in 2013 relief, Neal said.
Ahead of a refunding last fall, the rating agencies affirmed Missouri’s triple-A ratings on $500 million of outstanding GO debt, and ratings one notch lower on $790 million of appropriation and special obligation bonds. The ratings benefit from conservative financial operations, a broad and diverse economy and a budget reserve equal to 7.5% of net general fund revenues that provides liquidity.
The state closed out fiscal 2011 with an ending cash balance of $379 million, up from $184 million a year earlier. Other positives are the state’s constitutional ability to withhold spending in response to revenue shortfalls and an adequately funded pension system at 80%.
Challenges include a limited ability to raise revenue without voter approval and economic exposure to a shaky manufacturing sector.
Nixon recently signed a $24 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. Last week, budget director Linda Luebbering reported that the state collected net general revenues of $7.34 billion during the last fiscal year. That figure was up 3.2% from the previous year. Individual income tax revenues rose by 3.8% to $5.84 billion and sales and use taxes were up by 3.5%, reaching $1.87 billion. Corporate and corporate franchise taxes declined by 6.4% to $503 million.
The Legislature did not approve any new-money borrowing in the next fiscal year. Lawmakers rejected a measure that would have allowed the Missouri Department of Transportation to impose tolls on Interstate 70 and enter into a public-private partnership to finance a $2 billion to $4 billion rebuilding and expansion of the aging highway.
Lawmakers floated a flurry of bills that would have influenced future local and state borrowing, but none received final approval. The legislation stemmed from anger over the city of Moberly’s default on $39 million of bonds behind which the city put an appropriation pledge to help finance a failed sugar substitute manufacturing plant.