MuniLand

New leadership for muniland’s regulator

By Cate Long
August 16, 2011

New chair for muniland’s regulator

New leadership has been announced at the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, muniland’s primary regulator. Alan Polsky of Dougherty & Co., the incoming MSRB chairman, has spent much of his career working towards increased transparency in the muni secondary market where bonds trade after issuance. This is great news. From the Bond Buyer:

Alan D. Polsky, senior vice president of Minneapolis-based Dougherty & Co. LLC and former chair of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts, will be the next chairman of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board beginning Oct. 1, according to market sources.

Polsky spent a great deal of time trying to improve secondary market disclosure when he chaired the NFMA in 2001. During that year, the NFMA issued several “best practice” disclosure documents recommending how issuers, borrowers, and other market participants could improve disclosure in various sectors of the market. Polsky also was a member of the Muni Council, a group of about 20 muni market group representatives dedicated to improving secondary market disclosure. The group was responsible for the creation of the Central Post Office facility which temporarily served as a one-stop place for issuers to file their disclosure documents.

Joint Economic Committee

I wasn’t aware of this great resource on the economic conditions of the states and nation from the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. The site offers an especially good section on metrics like unemployment levels, earnings and housing stats, and much more. As an example here is a JEC report on Colorado.

USA Today also has an excellent graphic showing job-growth forecasts by state.

State unemployment funds still underwater

Stateline has written an excellent article talking about how states, which jointly fund and administer unemployment benefits, are rapidly reducing benefits and raising corporate taxes to replenish their coffers. States have borrowed $37 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits, and this must begin to be repaid. States are taking a variety of approaches, including making it harder to receive benefits, reducing benefit levels and raising taxes on employers. Stateline talks specifically about Florida’s approach:

Florida’s new approach is unique: It is the only state that will base unemployment benefits on a sliding scale. Florida’s unemployed may get up to 23 weeks of aid if the state’s unemployment rate is at least 10.5 percent, which it currently is. If joblessness falls to 5 percent, the unemployed get benefits for 12 weeks.

[Florida state Representative Doug] Holder, the House sponsor, stresses that a big priority was to remake “the unemployment system into a reemployment system.” Those receiving benefits must take an online skills assessment that plugs them into the state’s job-matching system. They also must submit information online that shows they contacted at least five employers a week or have met with a representative at a local One-Stop Career Center.

The changes on the benefits side didn’t prevent Florida from having to raise payroll taxes on businesses. But they did reduce the amount of the increase. Without Florida’s new law, businesses there would have seen the minimum payment per employee go from about $72 per year to $207. With the new law, the minimum payment next year will rise to $156.

@Twitter Talk

@munilass: Polsky is an excellent choice for the MSRB.

@OKPolicy: Tulsa-area business groups set out clear legislative agenda: fund education, DON’T cut taxes http://ow.ly/63qKL

@Eclectablog: Ecorse, MI firefighters union contract dismissed by Emergency Mgr-fulltime firefighters reduced by 57% fb.me/Xs9hKi1S

@randalljensen: WA chief economist sees local economic outlook dimming amid plummeting consumer confidence – http://ow.ly/63wQg

Follow me at @cate_long and muni issues at #muniland

+ Good Links +

Bloomberg: Atlanta Grows Lettuce as Urban Farms Bloom

CUSIP Global Services: CUSIP Request Volume Forecasts Slowdown in Corp and Muni Debt Issuance

SIFMA’s: 3rd Annual Muni-Bond Summit

Bond Buyer: Market Post: Munis Still Quiet, Await Big Deals Down the Road

Bloomberg: California Plans $5.4 Billion Short-Term Note Sale to Repay a Bridge Loan

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