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Archive for ◊ April, 2016 ◊

Castiglione said the project could not have come to fruition without private funding, which he said was solely responsible for its construction. Where some universities have built stadiums using public funds and through student fees, he said OU has found a way to finance the project strictly through private funds and bonds issued with permission from the state. 

“We don’t have any other source of revenue,” he said. “(This project) was not supported by the state, not in terms of financial support. The state supported the request for bond, but this is all the Sooner universe, as I call it. It’ bigger than one nation.”

“We’re totally self-sustaining. That’s the way we’re geared. We do it to serve the people that are most important to us, our student athletes and our fans. I’ll certainly take some pride in being such a small part of this. Something like this only happens because people believe in it and support it. Our president, David Boren, understands what this means, not just to our football program, but how Oklahoma football is such a special part of the fabric of this state.”

Stoops said it’s a big step forward for the school and the football program, from a prestige and recruiting standpoint. And, when the final bolt is installed, he said it will be even louder. 

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Every once in a while, a congressional committee hearing can almost seem like a time to grab your popcorn and a seat to hear the exchanges and varying opinions.

On April 5, a US Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on consumer finance regulations became one such occasion. The session was convened to publicly “assess the effects of consumer finance regulations.”

Good or bad?
In plain English, it was a time to publicly debate whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had been good or bad for the country, since opening operations in July 2011. The forum also hearkened back to many of the former supporters and opponents of proposals to reform Wall Street in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since that of the 1930s.

Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, chair of Senate Banking has consistently opposed the idea of creating an independent bureau with a director instead of a commission and a budget that would not be subject to the annual budgetary appropriations process.

“Because of the Bureau’s structure and the means by which it is financed, it remains one of the least accountable agencies in the federal government,” said Sen. Shelby in his opening remarks.

Conversely, Ohio’s Sen. Sherrod Brown, the committee’s ranking member, has just as vociferously supported financial reforms to shield consumers from further harms.

‘A success’
“The CFPB has been a success,” stated Sen. Brown. “The agency has taken strong actions in a number of consumer finance markets that previously had no federal oversight, including credit reporting, debt collection, payday loans, student loan servicing, and auto finance. The benefits of the CFPB are clear: its actions have resulted in $11.2 billion being returned to over 25 million consumers.”

The only hearing witness that spoke in support of all that CFPB has accomplished was Reverend Dr. Willie Gable, Jr., pastor of New Orleans’ Progressive Baptist Church and chair of the Housing and Economic Development Commission of the National Baptist Convention, USA.

He brought to the forum a bit of Baptist cadence and truth-telling to the Capitol Hill committee, underscoring the damage that predatory lending continues to inflict. His perspective was also a significant one, representing the National Baptist Convention USA with its 7,500,000 Baptist congregants. It is the oldest and largest religious convention in the nation.

“Twelve million families lost their homes as a result of the financial crisis,” stated Rev. Gable’s written testimony. “Twelve million. Lives turned upside down. Life savings washed away. $2.2 trillion in lost property value, over half from communities of color.”

Millions devastated
As this column has earlier reported, the families who lost their homes to foreclosure since 2004 were not the only victims of the crisis. Untold millions who lived nearby foreclosed homes may have kept theirs, but became upside down on their mortgages, owing more than the devalued homes are now worth.

The rippling effects of foreclosures nationwide led to multiple losses – jobs, businesses, incomes, and even local property taxes that support vital services like police, fire and emergency medical assistance.

“But other abuses continue to run rampant,” continued Rev. Gable. “Some may be more obscure than mortgage lending, but they are ever powerful, ever destructivePayday lending is an abomination in plain sight. A debt trap by design.”

In his allotted five minutes, Rev. Gable cited a litany of other lending ills: bank overdraft fees, discriminatory auto lending, law-breaking debt collectors, student debt and those who prey upon the elderly.

‘An insult’
“Please allow me to be clear: The notion that struggling Americans need access to products like those the Bureau has been working so hard to address is an insult to the basic dignity of every vulnerable person,” concluded Rev. Gable. “The predatory practices CFPB is addressing siphon off what little resources targeted persons have and leave them worse off. . . Uncontrolled predatory lending practices will relegate some communities to a state of perpetual poverty.”

“Now, when more than a million families remain seriously behind on their mortgage payments and just under half a million more are in some stage of foreclosure, it is not a time to move backwards into the same failed and reckless lending practices,” continued Calhoun. “Instead, we must continue to move forward to a more sustained housing recovery that benefits consumers, lenders and investors alike.”

Charlene Crowell is the Communications Manager for State Policy amp; Outreach with the Center for Responsible Lending. Contact her at Charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org.

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A complex problem affecting an estimated 21 million people worldwide, human trafficking demands comprehensive solutions to achieve the long-term eradication of slavery. Sex trafficking, labor trafficking, bonded labor, debt bondage, peonage (the involuntary servitude of laborers), and the use of child soldiers–all forms of trafficking according to the US Department of State–constitute exploitation and are therefore clear violations of inherent human rights.[1] To eliminate modern-day slavery, the US must take the lead in advocating approaches that ensure the rule of law on a permanent basis, but its leadership must be rooted in the principle that every life has value and dignity.

Congress is currently considering the End Modern Slavery Initiative (EMSI), a human trafficking initiative that would establish a congressionally chartered organization to galvanize funding for anti-trafficking and serve as a grantmaking authority to countries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The initiative could receive US funding on an annual basis while also receiving additional funding from foreign governments and private sources. To be an effective complement to existing US government efforts to combat human trafficking, any legislation creating an anti-trafficking program should reflect long-standing US anti-trafficking policies that respect life and ensure that the individuals who are being served are the individuals who are most vulnerable to the traffic in persons.

Anti-Trafficking Efforts Should Protect Life

US anti-trafficking policy should continue to reflect the fact that every victim of human trafficking, whether male, female, child, or adult, deserves care and to have his or her natural rights respected. That principle necessitates not only providing compassionate assistance to pregnant victims of human trafficking, but also protecting the lives of their unborn children. The United States cannot stand up to a global human trafficking industry that violates the basic human rights of millions around the world unless it recognizes the worth and dignity of all victims of human slavery, including unborn children, and defends their basic right to life. 

For guidance on structuring US funding and programming in accordance with these principles, Congress, the US Department of State, and relevant agencies can look to the long-standing policy that taxpayer funding should not be used to pay for abortions overseas or to lobby for the legalization of abortion in other countries.[2 ]

The Helms Amendment, first added to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and included in most annual foreign assistance appropriations since 1980, states that no US taxpayer funds “may be used to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”[3] Similarly, the Siljander Amendment, also added to most foreign operations appropriations since 1982, states that no taxpayer funds “may be used to lobby for or against abortion.”

The policy embodied in the Siljander Amendment is particularly important to ensure respect for the sovereignty of other nations, many of which place more limits on elective abortion than the United States places.[4] The same principle animates other policy provisions in domestic appropriations that prevent the use of taxpayer funding for elective abortions.[5]

Currently, these funding conditions will apply only to US funds given to the EMSI but not to money provided by private organizations or other foreign governments. Congress should ensure that no funds–private or public–from the initiative can be used for abortion or to lobby for or against abortion. 

Prioritization of Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Each year, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) at the US Department of State produces the Trafficking in Persons Report, which ranks countries according to their compliance with minimum standards for combatting trafficking in persons from best to worst in Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, and Tier 3. The EMSI recommends providing funds to countries according to their tier ranking.

EMSI programming would provide limitedly conditioned funding to Tier 2 Watch List countries and certain jurisdictions in Tier 3 countries. Tier 2 Watch List countries include China, Cuba, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Burma, among others.[6] Tier 3 countries include North Korea, Syria, Thailand, and Belarus, among others. Tier 2 Watch List and Tier 3 countries are clearly among the worst international actors.

In its current iteration, the EMSI provides little clarity with respect to how countries would be selected for assistance beyond stipulating that the countries or jurisdictions should have a high prevalence of human trafficking, that the government should be committed to addressing human trafficking, and that the country should have an active civil society. Assistance provided to countries to fight trafficking should be conditioned on their demonstrating both the will and the capacity to combat trafficking in persons.

Foreign aid provided in ways (such as bilateral aid programs) that allow the US to control and oversee the flow of taxpayer money more effectively is more likely to align with US policy and objectives. The US should not provide to these countries without first clearly identifying standards for receipt of aid and establishing parameters on its use.[7] Such a program could be modeled after Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) smart aid programs that tie a country’s eligibility to receive aid directly to its willingness to promote economic freedom and protect political freedom.[8] A country’s eligibility for MCC assistance is based on predetermined benchmarks using measurable indicators such as free trade, corruption, political freedom, and public health data.

The MCC has already applied its programming to human trafficking and has met with success. The threat of jeopardizing its MCC Compact assistance due to human-trafficking concerns motivated the government of the Philippines to make serious policy changes.[9] Partly because of how seriously the MCC treats human trafficking as an eligibility issue, the Philippines channeled significant additional resources toward its domestic anti-trafficking body, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking. Under President Benigno Aquino’s leadership, the Philippines rescued more than seven times the number of trafficking victims and convicted seven times more traffickers than had been the case under the previous administration.[10]

The purpose of any aid given to governments for anti-trafficking should be clearly outlined. Aid is fungible, and bad actors have a proven track record of reallocating funds to serve their own political purposes.[11] Anti-trafficking aid should be non-fungible and used to support known successful programs. Apart from this, aid may line the pockets of corrupt government and law enforcement officials rather than providing assistance to victims who are most in need.

Finally, anti-trafficking aid should comply with standards similar to the “Leahy laws,” which stipulate that the US government may not fund any foreign security services believed to be committing human rights violations. Such standards should also apply to any aid given from quasi-NGOs, like the one that would be established by the EMSI for US government-led anti-trafficking efforts.

Funding for anti-trafficking efforts is admittedly limited, but simply throwing money at a problem is never the whole solution. To combat trafficking in persons effectively will require significant funding, but it should be limited in its scope and purpose to ensure that those who are most in need are also those who are the best served.

Combatting Trafficking Going Forward

Anti-trafficking policy should use all of the tools in the proverbial toolbox. It is essential that trafficking victims have access to legal and judicial protection, as well as rehabilitation and counseling services after they are rescued. To deliver such comprehensive services unquestionably requires time, skill, and funding. In an effort to deliver comprehensive solutions to human trafficking, all funding and programming must be clear in its objectives. The US therefore should:

  • Protect the lives of unborn children. US efforts to combat human trafficking must respect the dignity and worth of every human being by caring for pregnant victims of trafficking and protecting their unborn children. Foreign assistance from US taxpayers and from any organization, program, fund, or other entity established by the United States government to address human trafficking should not be used to pay for abortion, to coerce anyone to perform an abortion, or to lobby for or against abortion.
  • Condition aid and make sure its purposes are clearly defined. In addition to the Trafficking in Persons Report, utilizing requirements similar to the MCC’s smart aid program should be considered when selecting recipient countries. In fact, the MCC’s model could be applied to J/TIP’s current anti-trafficking grant program.[12] It could also be applied to private funding to ensure that trafficking victims who are most in need are being reached and that countries with a demonstrated willingness and capacity to combat trafficking in persons are given priority in funding.
  • Implement quantitative, empirical methodologies to document not only the prevalence of human trafficking, but also the effectiveness of anti-trafficking programs.13 The US should collaborate with academic institutions and human-trafficking NGOs to develop a methodology for tracking the implementation, successes and failures, and long-term impacts of US anti-trafficking programs. Once developed, the methodology should be integrated into the Trafficking in Persons Report as one of many determining factors in assigning tier rankings.
  • Emphasize rule of law-oriented solutions. Victims of human trafficking must have access to fair and honest legal and judicial protection. The key to stopping trafficking is effective law enforcement and a corruption-free judicial system. The International Justice Mission’s rule of law programming in the Philippines and Cambodia met with great success: a 79 percent drop in the availability of minors for sex trafficking in the Philippines alone.[14] The enactment and enforcement of new and appropriate laws is critical. Police corruption and weak judicial institutions are the primary obstacles to breaking up human trafficking networks.[15]

Conclusion

Congress should guarantee that any US efforts to address human trafficking reflect these policies by ensuring that neither taxpayer funds nor funds from any organization or program established by the US government are used to take the lives of unborn children or to advocate laws that would do so. In situations where the US government is creating a program or entity to fight human trafficking, the United States has both the authority and the duty to ensure that such a program uses any funds, whether public or private, in an ethical manner and in accord with long-standing policy on abortion funding. When US policymakers are unable to determine whether non-US contributions to international funds will be spent in ways that conflict with US policy, bilateral assistance is preferable.[16]

–Olivia Enos is a Research Associate in the Asian Studies Center, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation. Sarah Torre is a Policy Analyst in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, at The Heritage Foundation. Ana Rosa Quintana is Policy Analyst for Latin America and the Western Hemisphere in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, of the Davis Institute.

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Regional dredging partnership taking shape
Friday, April 29th, 2016 | Author:

A potential scenario would have the Corps fully funding an initial round of dredging in the region, and local agencies paying for subsequent maintenance over a certain period using a possible combination of public and private funding, according to a city council report. The specifics of the strategy will be a central focus of the consultant’s work.

Cost estimates to dredge the Petaluma River, a 13-mile tidal slough used by commercial and recreational vessels, have varied. A Corps estimate in May of last year pegged the job at between $6.5 million and $9 million.

As a major force behind the new approach, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who represents Petaluma, acknowledged that times have changed from when federal dollars were a reliable source for maintaining the city’s eponymous waterway every four to six years.

“I’m going to keep working on the old school (Corps of Engineers) approach, but the years keep passing. There are a lot of demands on a diminishing pot of money, and it’s very frustrating. I feel like we have to pursue both paths, but the alternative path may get it done faster,” Huffman said.

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New Lifetime High For American Water Works (AWK)
Thursday, April 28th, 2016 | Author:

Trade-Ideas LLC identified
American Water Works (
AWK) as a new lifetime high candidate. In addition to specific proprietary factors, Trade-Ideas identified American Water Works as such a stock due to the following factors:

  • AWK has an average dollar-volume (as measured by average daily share volume multiplied by share price) of $98.0 million.
  • AWK has traded 272,210 shares today.
  • AWK is trading at a new lifetime high.

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American Water Works Company, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides water and wastewater services in the United States and Canada. The company offers water and wastewater services to approximately 1,600 communities in 16 states. The stock currently has a dividend yield of 2%. AWK has a PE ratio of 26. Currently there are 7 analysts that rate American Water Works a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

The average volume for American Water Works has been 2.2 million shares per day over the past 30 days. American Water Works has a market cap of $12.3 billion and is part of the utilities sector and utilities industry. The stock has a beta of 0.23 and a short float of 4.7% with 5.44 days to cover. Shares are up 16.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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TheStreetRatings.com Analysis:

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates American Water Works as a
buy. The companys strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, solid stock price performance and increase in net income. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • AMERICAN WATER WORKS CO INC has improved earnings per share by 5.8% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, AMERICAN WATER WORKS CO INC increased its bottom line by earning $2.63 versus $2.39 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.82 versus $2.63).
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.0%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the companys bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $323.38 million or 25.81% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, AMERICAN WATER WORKS CO INC has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 17.06%.
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the companys shares by a sharp 27.15% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the Samp;P 500 Index. We feel that the stocks sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Samp;P 500, but is less than that of the Water Utilities industry average. The net income increased by 5.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $93.50 million to $98.99 million.
  • You can view the full American Water Works Ratings Report.

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North Shore Bank is Offering MassHousings Operation Welcome Home Mortgage Loans for Massachusetts Veterans

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Last Modified: Thursday, March 17, 2016 5:09 PM

By The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE — Louisianas top officials agreed Thursday to refinance state debt to generate $82 million in quick cash to help close gaps in this years budget.

The Bond Commission agreed to the financing maneuver over the objections of its chairman, Treasurer John Kennedy.

Lawmakers assumed the additional cash in its budget rebalancing work during the recently-added special legislative session, so refusal to do the refinancing would have more than doubled a remaining $70 million shortfall for the budget year that ends June 30.

But the decision will add long-term costs to state debt repayment.

Kennedy was the only member to vote against the refinancing. He said he couldnt vote for what he considers another budget gimmick, on top of years of short-term fixes that left Louisiana stumbling from one shortfall to another. He said the refinancing was the equivalent of shifting from a 15-year home mortgage to a 30-year mortgage to pay for a new boat.

My foots sore, and I dont want to kick the can anymore. Enough is enough. Im tired of the three-card Monte, Kennedy said after the meeting, referencing a card trick.

The states financial adviser, Renee Boicourt with Lamont Financial Services Corp., told the commission a refinancing was one of the only ways Louisiana can generate sizable amounts of money by June 30.

Its something you really only do in circumstances like this, she said.

But she also advised: I recommend dont do this again.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and lawmakers intend to use the money to help close a budget gap that once reached $900 million. They passed tax increases, cut spending and used patchwork financing like the debt refinancing to help shrink the shortfall. Even with those fixes, the states budget is $70 million short and deeper cuts will be required.

The governors chief budget adviser, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, told lawmakers in a separate budget hearing that the administration will announce where it intends to levy the cuts next week.

Advisers and staff for the Bond Commission said they dont recall the state ever doing a debt refinancing of the type approved Thursday morning.

The refinancing involves selling bonds to investors to pay off debt service that comes due this year, essentially rolling the debt payment out again over a number of years, to be paid off with interest. In addition, other debts will be restructured to take advantage of low interest rates in the bond market.

Asked how credit rating agencies will view the maneuver, Boicourt said that depends on whether its a short-term bridge to an improved, more stable financial structure in the future or whether its a pattern of short-term fixes that continue next year and beyond.

Edwards was visiting with representatives of the major credit rating agencies Thursday at the governors mansion, seeking to reassure them that he and lawmakers are working to steady Louisianas finances.

Ratings from the credit agencies help determine interest rates when the state borrows money. A drop in a states credit rating raises interest costs, making it more expensive to borrow.

Moodys Investors Service downgraded Louisianas credit last month, citing years of structural imbalance in the budget and declining reserves. The state remains on a negative outlook, at risk of further rating drops.

The Legislative Auditors Office estimates the Moodys downgrade could cost Louisiana $69 million more for its borrowing over the next nine years.

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DENVER GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–First California Mortgage Company (First Cal), a leading home lender
founded in 1977 and active throughout the US, announced an office
expansion and series of new hires in Greenwood Village, CO, serving home
buyers and real estate mortgage professionals in providing competitive
home loans, said Becky Vaughan, regional sales manager, Mountain Region.
The new 9,800 square-foot space, located in the Tech Center at 8490 E.
Crescent Pkwy., Suite 100, provides support services for its network of
loan officers and retail branches. A total of 31 personnel are based in
the office, with several more hires expected.

Were thrilled to be growing in Greenwood, easily accessible for
meeting customers and for supporting our mortgage lending in Greater
Denver, Colorado and the region, said Vaughan.

First Cal already has two branches at 2720 Council Tree Ave. in Ft.
Collins, CO, and 1829 56th Ave. in Greeley, CO, with others planned.
Vaughan said First Cals growth in the Mountain Region will continue,
and is recruiting loan officers, loan processors, loan officer
assistants and underwriters for further expansion throughout the state.

Recent hires include Steve Broyles and Joe Parker, both 20-year veterans
of the lending industry. Broyles has been a senior loan adviser for
nearly 20 years, and Parker has 25 years of management experience in
full-service mortgage lending operations and sales on a national level.

First Cals strong financial stability, a focus on excellent service
and the operational support necessary to execute at the highest level
are resonating with home buyers, Vaughan said. We offer the highly
competitive rates you expect from a national lender and still have the
personal service of a hometown bank. Thats perfect synergy for home
buyers, our employees and our industry partners.

Weve been active in the Rocky Mountains for years, and have steadily
grown our local teams of late — and will continue expanding, said
Chris Hart, president of First Cal. We aim to be the lender of choice
in every market.

About First Cal

Founded in 1977, First California Mortgage Company (First Cal) is a
full-service home mortgage lender whose family-run roots instill a
personalized approach to its commitment of offering the best loans and
customer service in the industry. First Cal, NMLS #24055, is an approved
seller-servicer with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and an approved Iamp;II
issuer with Ginnie Mae. Based in Petaluma, Calif. and active in more
than 20 states, First Cal is ranked as a Top 100 lender by Mortgage
Executive Magazine. Its innovative Diamond Lane(TM) service for qualified
borrowers enables closing within 21 to 25 days, sometimes faster. For
more information on First Cal and its loan products, call 855-592-LOAN
or visit us at www.FirstCal.net.

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Citi, PFM Top 1st-Quarter League Tables
Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 | Author:

Citi climbed past Bank of America Merrill Lynch to become the No. 1 book runner in the first quarter, building market share even as the par amount of municipal deals underwritten by the top 10 fell from a year earlier.

Quarterly League Tables

Public Financial Management Inc. remained atop the financial advisor league table and the state of California was the largest municipal issuer.

Citi closed the quarter with a par amount of $13.24 billion in 125 issues, or 13.8% market share, which compares with $13 billion in 130 issues or 12.5% market share during the first three months of 2015, according to data from Thomson Reuters. It was one of only four among the top 10 to increase its par from the year earlier.

A majority of the financings on the negotiated side were refundings, actually more than half, and those were split between revenue bonds and GO bonds, said David Brownstein, head of public finance at Citi. We are seeing tremendous execution in the market, which is driven by investor demand, and that is helping to get refundings done, which is a component as to why we did well in the first quarter.

The top 10 accounted for a total par amount of $93.04 billion in 2,636 transactions this year, down from the $100.04 billion in 2,892 transactions the same time period in 2015.

Citi has been and will continue to focus on distressed credits as well as working hard to help find solutions to infrastructure problems such as what is going on with the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

We are very focused on finding solutions for clean water right now, and we are hoping others are also thinking through this to avoid another catastrophe, said Brownstein. I think we will have a dynamic year overall as a market. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch dropped to No. 2, after finishing in first place for the first quarter of last year and for the entire year, though the gap between first place and second place had diminished as the year went on.

BAML finished the first quarter with $13.04 billion in 120 deals and a 13.6% market share, which compares with $13.19 billion in 119 deals and a market share of 12.7 percent a year earlier.

Wells Fargo made the biggest jump this quarter, spring-boarding to the third spot from seventh a year ago.  Wells’ par amount of deals rose to $8.47 billion from $5.34 billion during the first three months of last year.

JPMorgan finished in fourth place with $8.43 billion and Morgan Stanley rounded out the top five with $6.95 billion.

Stifel had the second largest jump in the rankings, moving up from ninth place to sixth. Stifel concluded the quarter with a par amount of $4.65 billion this year versus $4.46 billion for the same time period of 2015. The St. Louis based full-service wealth management and investment banking firm also got credit for the most issues, having completed 247 deals this quarter versus 217 a year earlier.

RBC Capital Markets concluded the quarter in seventh place with $4.38 billion, followed by Barclays with $3.80 billion, Raymond James with $3.61 billon, and Goldman, Sachs with $3.60 billion.

Financial Advisors
Public Financial Management retained its perch atop the financial advisor league tables. PFM finished the quarter with a par amount of $18.55 billion in 332 deals, good for a 22.8% market share. That compares with $15.19 billion in 251 deals or 17.4% market share during the same time period of 2015.

Even with the persistent uncertainty about domestic and international economic conditions, PFM expects municipalities to continue to address their significant backlog of deferred infrastructure investments, said John Bonow, chief executive officer and managing director for the PFM Group. Using both traditional funding approaches and through creative arrangements with public and non-traditional partners, we think that the pace of infrastructure funding will increase throughout the remainder of 2016.

Bonow said PFM is gratified that the firm’s clients look to them for help to position themselves to take advantage of good opportunities to finance new project and refinance outstanding debt.

Our relationships with clients extend well beyond debt management as we help them develop and manage suitable capital structures and sustainable operations, said Bonow.

Public Resources Advisory Group was second with $9.21 billion and Hilltop Securities was third with $8.37 billion, as the two firms flip-flopped their respective positons from the first quarter of 2015.

The two biggest movers in the ranking were the firms rounding out the top five: Acacia Financial Group Inc. and KNN Public Finance.

Acacia moves from eighth place to fourth, after closing the quarter with $3.09 billion, while KNN posted a par amount of $2.36 billion, jumping to fifth this quarter  from 16th last year.

Negotiated Underwriting
Citi claimed the top spot for underwriting negotiated deals, with a par amount of $10.09 billion. BAML was in second for the quarter, with $8.077 billion and JPMorgan finished third with $6.95 billion. Wells Fargo finished fourth with $6.55 billion and Morgan Stanley rounds out the top five with 4.69 billion.

Stifel which finished sixth in par amount with $4.45 billion in the first quarter, had the most deals with 216.

The only two firms with a higher par amount in negotiated deals in the first quarter than a year earlier were, Citi and Stifel. Overall par amount for all top underwriters for negotiated-only deals fell to $77.52 billion in 1,731 transactions this quarter from $82.40 billion in 2,029 transactions a year ago.

Competitive Underwriting
BAML finished the first quarter atop the ranking for competitive-only deals with $4.96 billion, followed by Citi with $3.14 billion. Morgan Stanley was third with $2.25 billion. Wells Fargo was fourth with $1.92 billion, as it made the biggest year-over-year leap, moving up from sixth place a year ago.

Robert W. Baird was fifth with $1.88 billion. Baird also completed the most competitive only transactions with 141, after leading the pack in that category a year ago with 136.

Golden Empire
Issuers from California and New York flexed their municipal market muscles, account for half of the top 22 issuers in the nation in the first quarter. Six of these top issuers are from New York, five from California and three from Texas.

The state of California leads the ranking with a par amount of $2.95 billion, most of which came on the $2.9 billion mega deal that priced on March 8.

Our deal in March tells you what our emphasis is; we want to take advantage of the continuing opportunity for refundings while the rates remain low, said Tim Schaefer, deputy treasurer, public finance, for California Treasurer John Chiang. Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is also focused on projects that are crucial to the state’s wellbeing, such as Proposition 1B for highway safety and traffic reduction and of course safe drinking water and educational facilities. We want to direct our resources to implementation of those goals.

The New York City Transitional Finance Authority finished second for the quarter with $1.90 billion, followed by the Empire State Development Corp. with $1.65 billion.

The city of Houston was fourth with $1.51 billion and the Trustees of the California State University rounded out the top five with $1.38 billion.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority just missed out on the top five, finishing with $1.36 billion. The state of Washington was next, followed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Florida State Board of Administration Financial Corp and the state of Massachusetts.

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Latest school funding plan draws critics
Monday, April 25th, 2016 | Author:

You cant allow the existing system to go on where taxpayers across Illinois are somehow funding local school pensions they have no control over, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said.

Earlier Tuesday, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he supported efforts to overhaul school funding. But he said Democrats created the funding problem and called on them to not tie a rewrite of the formula to a larger budget bill that would send money to schools for the new teaching year.

While Rauner vetoed most of the budget Democrats sent him last year, he signed off on a portion that kept schools operating despite the states 10-month budget impasse. This issue was created by the Democrats, and to say this year were going to hold up school funding and the opening of schools until this gets fixed, thats not fair, Rauner said.

In a protest Tuesday over the budget impasse, more than 100 people staged a sit-in at the Executive Mansion over a lack of funding for homeless services.

With the mansion open for public tours, members of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless entered with their matching yellow shirts hidden under jackets. Once inside, they shed their layers and began chanting while demanding to meet with Rauners staff. Rauner has repeatedly opposed piecemeal spending efforts to free up funds for various social service programs.

After agreeing to go outside, organizers said they were able to meet with staff for the governor and first lady Diana Rauner. They had hoped to appeal to her given her position heading the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early childhood advocacy group.

Julie Dworkin, director of policy for the coalition, said the meeting was not productive.

Organizations that help the homeless said they can no longer make ends meet through program and staff cuts. Officials at Unity Parenting, a program designed to help single mothers, warn the program could close by June without state funding, forcing women and children out of transitional housing and back on the street.

Unity Parenting Executive Director Flora Koppel said the state owes the organization more than $200,000, which she said was a small amount compared with the long-term costs to the state for providing health care and other services.

Were looking for other private funding sources. We dont trust the state anymore, Koppel said.

Meanwhile, inside the Statehouse, a House committee approved legislation that would allow those identifying as transgender to change their gender marker on their birth certificate without undergoing surgery. In addition, a Senate panel signed off on a plan to raise the states legal smoking age from 18 to 21, a move earlier approved for Chicago by the City Council.

mcgarcia@tribpub.com

cbott@tribpub.com

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