Washington Treasurer James McIntire said the state successfully pulled off its first retail-bond negotiated offering in more than 14 years, booking orders for more than $89 million worth of the debt.
Due to the high demand, the state increased retail sales by $39 million, or 43%, for residents, the treasurer said in a statement.
He said residents made up 85% of orders in the tranche of motor vehicle fuel tax-backed bonds.
“Washington retail investors haven’t had this opportunity in a long time,” McIntire said in the press release. “They stepped up and helped us keep a significant portion of the bond payments in Washington State.”
Unlike nearby California and Oregon, which already have programs to promote retail bond sales, Washington does not have an income tax and thus offers little financial incentive to in-state retail investors to buy local tax-exempt bonds.
The new program gave preference to retail investors before institutions as part of a $323 million general obligation bond deal backed by the state’s GO pledge in $5,000 denominations.
Investors also turned out Wednesday for the state’s other three competitive bond sales totaling $648.45 million.
The state received eight bids on $388 million tax-exempt various-purpose GO bonds.
Nine bidders competed for the $233 million of motor vehicle fuel-tax GO bonds. The $27.9 million of taxable GO bonds received 15 bids.
The “Buy Washington Bonds” program was the state’s first negotiated tax-exempt bond sale in decades.
Washington has sold all its tax-exempt debt — including for refundings, stadiums, and public-private partnerships — competitively since 1996, though it used negotiation to price taxable Build America Bonds in 2009 and 2010.