DALLAS – For the first time in 22 years, Oklahoma will prepare for municipal bond issues without the services of State Bond Advisor James Joseph.

Joseph, who has advised on billions of dollars of bond issues, resigned Oct. 31 after his office was absorbed by the State Treasurer’s office.

“Under the new system, the State Bond Advisor will be appointed by the State Treasurer,” Joseph said. “As a result, I chose to resign to give the Treasurer an opportunity to appoint his own person to that position.”

Oklahoma State Capitol building
The Oklahoma capitol. Legislation to bring his office under the arm of the state treasurer led Oklahoma State Bond Advisor James Joseph to resign. Adobe Stock

Andrew Messer, deputy treasurer for policy and debt management in Treasurer Ken Miller’s office, has been named acting bond advisor.

A spokesman for Miller’s office said the Treasurer did not seek the legislative change in the 2017 session, but Miller said the new structure makes sense.

“Proponents know the vast majority of state treasurers have significant responsibility for debt management and pension investment,” Miller said. “The Oklahoma treasurer is independently elected, directly accountable to the people and constitutionally charged with safeguarding public funds. Yet the position has no active role in debt management or pension investment.”

Joseph said the shift produces no savings for the state and was not necessary.

“I believe the bond oversight process worked very well to control issuance costs and ensure that programs and projects were funded in the most cost-effective manner possible,” he said.

The bond advisor advises and assists the governor and Legislature on capital planning, debt issuance and debt management. The advisor’s staff also works with the Council on Bond Oversight, which reviews and approves requests for financing for all state government entities.

With a state appropriation of $110,687 last year, bond advisor’s office generated nearly four times that much through fees issued on each state bond issue.

Joseph told The Bond Buyer that he had no immediate career plans but that financial advisory work remains an option.

“I have enjoyed working with the various debt issuers during my time with the state,” he said.

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