What Is Bond Bank?
Bond banks are independent entities that are created by the state to consolidate local bond issues into a single pool, thereby offering better financing options for state or municipal projects. By serving as intermediaries, bond banks enable states to finance infrastructure through massive bond issues, which significantly reduces issuance costs. The bond bank's consolidation of varying investment-grade fixed-income securities has the intended effect of lowering the overall risk of the pooled offering for investors.
Within the public finance landscape, bond banks emerge as autonomous entities formed by state authorities. Their pivotal role lies in amalgamating diverse local bond offerings into a unified reservoir. This consolidation, in turn, yields enhanced financial avenues for a spectrum of state and municipal endeavors.
Exploring Bond Banks: Bridging State and Municipal Finance
Bond banks, distinct entities created by legislation, operate independently from state governments and are governed by their own boards and commissioners. Their credit ratings are separate from the state's credit ratings. For instance, the Maine Municipal Bond Bank (MMBB) holds a credit rating from Moody's Investors Service, distinct from the state of Maine. MMBB's elevated credit rating secures favorable interest rates, reducing borrowing costs for Maine.
While some states align their credit ratings with bond banks, not all benefit from a more advantageous rate than the state itself. Nevertheless, bond banks streamline and simplify the borrowing process for state governments, facilitating financial procurement. Typically, bond banks issue at least two annual, mostly tax-exempt bonds, amalgamating various investment-grade fixed-income securities to mitigate investor risk.
Proceeds from bond bank issuances fund public projects, including schools, hospitals, and water infrastructure, serving as essential intermediaries. Bond banks enable states to finance infrastructure through larger, cost-efficient bond issues rather than fragmented, state-controlled smaller issuances. This consolidation results in higher credit ratings and improved interest rates for borrowers.
The Maine Municipal Bond Bank: Pioneering U.S. Bond Banking
Founded in 1971 through the state legislature, the Maine Municipal Bond Bank stands as the nation's oldest bond bank. Although independent, the bank's commissioners receive appointments from the governor.
The bank issues bonds for initiatives like the Transcap Bond Program, supporting the Maine Department of Transportation, and the Drinking Water SRF Program, ensuring access to clean drinking water. Prospective investors can access these bonds through designated brokers approved by the bond bank.
It's worth noting that not all states have established bond banks, with regulations tightening after the Tax Reform Act of 1986 to limit tax-exempt bonds for private business subsidies. Pre-1986 bond banks had more borrowing flexibility before these restrictions took effect, while those formed afterward faced stricter limits, hindering their growth prospects.
Bond banks facilitate efficient financing for state and municipal projects by consolidating local bond issues into a single pool, lowering issuance costs, and enhancing credit ratings. The Maine Municipal Bond Bank, established in 1971, is the nation's oldest, aiding vital initiatives like the Transcap Bond Program and Drinking Water SRF Program. Although not all states have embraced this approach, newer bond banks face regulatory constraints post-1986, limiting their growth. Nevertheless, these entities remain essential in driving state and municipal progress.