Autumn is shaping up to be Build America Bond season in New York.
Out of 22 deals totalling $6.48 billion from the state’s major issuers in the fourth quarter, five of the deals totaling $3.1 billion will be issued as either BABs or have a BAB component, according to a preliminary calendar released yesterday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
The comptroller’s office releases quarterly issuance calendars to coordinate bond transactions for about two dozen major issuers in the state. The calendar is preliminary and subject to change.
“It’s been a shot in the arm for the bond market,” said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Speaking at a press conference lauding the use of BABs by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and issuers in general, hesaid the program should be extended beyond its expiration at the end of 2010.
“Assuming the community sends me back to Washington, I can assure it will get strong support for its extension,” said Rangel, who is up for reelection next year.
Asked whether the 35% subsidy should be changed, he said that hearings would be held before anything was changed in the program.
“We have a little bit of time before deal with the percentage of the subsidy,” he said.
As of Oct. 2, issuers in 39 states have sold $35.6 billion of BABs, according to the Treasury Department. The taxable bond program, which allows issuers to receive a 35% Federal subsidy on interest costs, was created this year under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
BABs now constitute 19.5% of the municipal bond market, according to the Treasury. As of last week, New York had issued $2.54 billion of BABs, making it the fourth largest issuer under the program after California, Texas and Illinois.
“The more that’s issued the better,” said Alan Krueger, chief economist and assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury. “The more that’s issued is an indication that it’s reducing the borrowing costs for state and local governments, it’s helping put the country back to work.”
Despite touting their popularity and savings to issuers, Rangel and Krueger said that BABs are not a replacement for the traditional tax-exempt market.
The MTA has marketed $2.78 billion of bonds in 2009, including this week’s $500 million of BABs and $96.6 million tax-exempt bonds. Slightly more than half of those, $1.45 billion, were BABs.
MTA finance director Patrick McCoy said that the authority’s two BAB deals earlier this year had saved it $73 million at net present value.
The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York is expected to be the most active issuer in the state in the fourth quarter, marketing $2.51 billion of bonds. DASNY’s deals include a $400 million personal income tax bond deal in October. According to a preliminary official statement, that deal will be a little smaller than published on the calendar, with $250 million of BABs and $99.8 million of tax-exempt.
The largest deal on the comptroller’s calendar is a $1.5 billion personal income tax bond deal through the Empire State Development Corp. in November that will be a mix of BABs and tax-exempt bonds.
Other deals that include a BABs component and a tax-exempt component are $100 million to be marketed by the Battery Park City Authority and $500 million from the New York City Municipal Water Finance Authority.
“It’s a win for New York State taxpayers,” Matt Fabian, managing director at Municipal Market Advisors, said in an e-mail. “The federal government is providing an unlimited block grant via the BAB program; any issuers are well advised to absorb as much of it as possible.”