WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of senators is pushing to include municipal bonds in bank-safety rules, the latest wrinkle in a continuing fight over how safe—and salable—the debt of states and localities would be in another financial crisis.
Sens. Mark Warner (D., Va.), Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) are set to introduce legislation on municipal bonds this week, according to Senate aides. The bill aims to open the door for big U.S. banks to count municipal bonds as liquid assets under rules completed in 2014 that were designed to ensure Wall Street firms have enough cash during a crisis to fund their operations for 30 days.
The Senate legislation would place municipal bonds on the lowest rung of the “high quality liquid assets” category. That means they would be treated on par with corporate bonds, but not as favorably as under related legislation approved by the House early this year.
“We must ensure a continued and reliable access to capital markets for our local governments,” Mr. Warner said in a written statement. “This legislation represents a compromise that achieves that while appropriately balancing concerns for the long term stability of our financial system.”
The rules, slated to go into effect next year, are aimed at making banks hold more cash or securities that are easy to sell. The Federal Reserve and two other bank regulators had originally decided debt issued by states and localities didn’t make the cut—prompting a backlash from banks, lawmakers and states and localities who warned the move would make the bonds less attractive and raise borrowing costs for municipalities.
The Fed completed amendments in April to allow some investment-grade municipal bonds to qualify. But the two other regulators involved in the rules—the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.—haven’t followed suit.
Aides to Senate lawmakers say their bill was scaled back from the House version to gain broad support for it in the Senate, though it is unclear if there is sufficient time in the remaining year to advance the bill.
The College Savings Plans Network released it’s mid-year review of 529 plan activity this month, celebrating the success and solidifying the importance of the 529 college savings plans.
Read the full report here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) recognized two state treasurers and three corporate affiliate partners during its 2016 Annual Conference in Seattle, which took place from September 11-13th at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller, NAST’s 2017 President-Elect, presented the awards and said, “2016 marks NAST’s 40-year anniversary, so I am proud to celebrate this milestone by honoring some of the men and women who helped pave the way for this dynamic organization. NAST has addressed some of the country’s greatest fiscal challenges over the past four-decades, and will continue to do so with the help of these outstanding individuals.”
Washington State Treasurer James L. McIntire received the 2016 Jesse M. Unruh Award, which recognizes an active treasurer’s outstanding service to the association, the profession and his or her state.
Treasurer McIntire is the acting President of NAST, and was elected as Washington’s 22nd State Treasurer in 2008. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Washington, where he founded and directed the Fiscal Policy Center and taught economics for 25-years. He began his public service career working in the U.S. Senate for Hubert Humphrey, and was a five-term State Representative prior to becoming State Treasurer.
Virginia State Treasurer Manju Ganeriwala received the 2016 Harlan Boyles-Edward T. Alter Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes a dedicated public servant whose outstanding career in government has provided a respected voice for NAST at all levels of state government.
Treasurer Ganeriwala is a past-president of NAST and was appointed State Treasurer of Virginia in 2009. Prior to serving as Treasurer, she served as deputy secretary of finance. Her public service career also includes leadership roles with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget. Her experience also includes working in strategic planning and long-range forecasting for the East Ohio Gas Company in Cleveland.
Former Maine State Treasurer David Lemoine received the 2016 Lucille Maurer Award, which recognizes a former treasurer for their outstanding service to association. Treasurer Lemoine served in the Maine State Legislature from 1998 to 2004 before becoming the State’s Treasurer from 2005 to 211. He currently serves as the Managing Director of Xerox finance and Revenue Solutions and is a member of the NAST Corporate Affiliate Advisory Board. He is the NAST Corporate Affiliate representative and serves on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators Executive Board.
Francie Heller, Managing Partner at Heller Advisory, received the 2016 Corporate Affiliate Award, which recognizes a NAST corporate affiliate’s outstanding service to the organization. Over the past year, Heller has served as NAST’s Corporate Affiliate Board Chair and has advocated for the interests of the association’s Corporate Affiliate Partners. She is a graduate of Boston University and the University of Georgia.
Arthur Marcus received the 2016 NAST Founders Award, which recognizes a NAST founding member for their outstanding contributions to the organization. Marcus has been with NAST throughout the organization’s 40-year history. As an original member—Marcus was influential in securing the financial resources necessary to create the organization, and remains an ardent supporter of NAST.
Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller Elected 2017 President
SEATTLE, WA – The National Association of State Treasurers (NAST) today elected Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller as its 2017 President during the association’s annual conference in Seattle. Treasurer Miller will succeed outgoing President James L. McIntire, the Washington State Treasurer, on January 1, 2017.
“It is an honor to be chosen by my colleagues to serve as president of this bipartisan national network,” said Treasurer Miller during NAST’s annual conference. “For more than four decades, NAST has addressed some of the country’s toughest fiscal challenges by promoting policies and programs that have proven successful at the state level. I look forward to helping guide this association in its next phase of growth.”
“I would further like to thank Treasurer McIntire for his leadership over the past year. Under his presidency, NAST has pushed to improve America’s aging infrastructure, help families save for the rising cost of higher education, return unclaimed property to its rightful owners and enhance financial literacy across the nation. I am excited to continue working with him and the entire executive committee to build on this momentum.”
Treasurer Miller is the first Oklahoman in NAST’s 40-year history to serve as president of the association. He was elected state treasurer of Oklahoma in 2010 and was reelected in 2014.
Alongside Treasurer Miller, the association also elected Beth Pearce, Vermont State Treasurer, as Senior Vice President of NAST and Mark Gordon, Wyoming State Treasurer, as Secretary-Treasurer of NAST.
Other 2017 NAST Executive Committee members elected include:
· Past President, James McIntire, Washington Treasurer
· President, Ken Miller, Oklahoma Treasurer
· Senior Vice President, Beth Pearce, Vermont Treasurer
· Secretary-Treasurer, Mark Gordon, Wyoming Treasurer
· Western Region Vice President, Pamela Leary, Alaska Treasurer
· Midwestern Region Vice President, Don Stenberg, Nebraska Treasurer
· Southern Region Vice President, Curtis Loftis, South Carolina Treasurer
· Eastern Region Vice President, Deborah Goldberg, Massachusetts Treasurer
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers hereby reiterates and clarifies its positions regarding the following critical issues related to the municipal securities market:
1. NAST opposes preemption of state and local finance authority and state oversight of the debt issuance process through revision or repeal of the Tower Amendment.
2. NAST opposes legislation to subject state and local government issuers to federal disclosure laws and registration of municipal securities with the SEC.
3. NAST opposes legislative and regulatory measures to repeal the exemption of municipal bond interest from Federal and applicable state income taxation, to curtail the use and attractiveness of tax-exempt bonds, and to discourage investment in tax-exempt bonds and opposes any federal legislation that diminishes the value or impairs the use of taxexempt bonds.
4. NAST supported the creation of EMMA and supports expanding the usefulness of EMMA as a central repository
5. NAST encourages and promotes the frequent and timely disclosure of information to the municipal securities market. To this end, NAST is prepared to work with other organizations and associations to better define what financial, operating and other information is relevant and useful to the market recognizing the significant differences of issuers by size, sector and frequency of issuance.
6. NAST opposes any requirements to provide audited financial statements in less than 180 days of the fiscal year-end.
7. NAST supports traditional tax-exempt financing, which should never be reduced or eliminated. To the extent tax credit debt financing programs are extended or created, credits and subsidies should not be reduced or eliminated.
8. NAST supports the regulation of all financial intermediaries in the municipal securities market.
9. NAST supports an independent and equitably funded Governmental Accounting Standards Board (“GASB”). NAST maintains that funding for GASB should come primarily from state and local governments. NAST opposes federal government funding or oversight of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board as well as any direct federal mandates on issuers of municipal securities to comply with GASB accounting standards.
10. NAST supports rating agencies that carry out their commitment to utilize a single rating scale for all debt instruments such that a rating applied to a municipal bond indicates the same credit risk as that same rating applied to corporate bonds, while also recognizing the need for relative ratings amongst municipal issuers. Ratings should measure the ability of an issuer to meet its obligation to investors as promised in the bond documents, such obligation primarily being to pay debt service on time and in full.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers opposes preemption of state and local finance authority and oversight of the debt issuance process through revision or repeal of the Tower Amendment or enactment of legislation to subject state and local government issuers to federal disclosure laws.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers supports the self-regulatory structure of the municipal market, and the commitment of all issuers of municipal securities to provide annual financial, operating, and other information in timely manner consistent with federal and state laws and Securities and Exchange Commission rules.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, The National Association of State Treasurers recommends that public retirement funds and private equity partners develop strategies that allow public funds to collect and reflect the actual cost of investing, including all private equity fees and expenses.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, To achieve increased transparency between public retirement funds and private equity partners, the National Association of State Treasurers endorses the use of the Institutional Limited Partners Association’s Fee Reporting Template.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers and its affiliate, the College Savings Plans Network, urge the President and the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to encourage and incentivize employers to support its employees’ efforts to save for higher education in a Section 529 Qualified Tuition Program to benefit themselves or their families.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers and its affiliate, the College Savings Plans Network, urge the President and the Congress of the United States to enact legislation to include contributions to Section 529 qualified tuition programs to the list of deferrals or contributions that qualify for the Saver’s Credit.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association of State Treasurers and its affiliate, the College Savings Plans Network, urge the President and Congress of the United States to enact federal law that would allow Section 529 plan account holders to transfer or rollover assets in a 529 college savings account (up to a reasonable amount or in accordance with annual IRA limits) into an IRA or other retirement plan for either the beneficiary or the account owner, after the 529 account has been open for at least 10 years.
NAST & CSPN Thanks Congress for Excluding 529 Plans from Federal Financial Aid in the PROSPER Act