New Jersey lawmakers are seeking professionals to help evaluate Gov. Jon Corzine's $38 billion debt restructuring proposal after he filed a draft bill of the initiative last week.

Legislators in both chambers released a joint solicitation of offers for tax advisor, financial adviser, and traffic and revenue adviser. Interested parties should send responses by Feb. 25 to Albert Porroni, executive director of the Office of Legislative Services via email at aporroni@njleg.org or fax at 609-777-1909. Porroni will also serve as the main contact between selected firms and legislative leaders in the Senate and General Assembly's assessment of the debt restructuring initiative.

Corzine's proposal includes forming a public benefit corporation that would increase tolls by 50% to back a potential $38 billion of debt, with bond proceeds then paying down half of the state's $32 billion of debt and financing transportation infrastructure for 75 years. For more than a year, the administration worked with UBS Securities LLC to craft the debt restructuring proposal.

Tax consultant duties include determining whether the PBC, as detailed in Corzine's bill, would receive tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service and what alterations could be made to better ensure the PBC's ability to sell tax-exempt bonds. Qualifications include experience with tax matters in transportation finance, concession agreements, and complex municipal securities.

The financial advisory firm will review whether Corzine's plan can achieve its debt reduction goals and offer "alternative structures and procedures that might accomplish those goals more effectively," according to the solicitation. Required experience includes work on at least two public private partnership transactions.

The traffic consultant will evaluate revenue and traffic projections included in Corzine's plan along with revenue and traffic projections related to possible alternative toll schedules or increases designed by the Legislature, among other assignments. Lawmakers are seeking a firm that has consulted on at least two traffic and revenue projection studies within the past two years. q

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