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Dear Friends,

The second half of the year went by just as fast as the first six months. In this “Highlights” report, top-line achievements made by the State Treasurer’s Office (STO) from July through December of 2019 are noted. Accomplishments for the first half of the year were reported at the end of June.

Pursuant to state law, the State Treasurer serves as agent for sale on all state bonds. From July to December 15, 2019, the STO sold $8.3 billion of bonds, including :

·         $4.23 billion of voter-approved general obligation bonds, including $1.74 billion for new projects and $2.49 billion of bonds to refinance older bonds at lower rates.


·         $596 million of revenue bonds for the Trustees of the California State University.

·         $500 million of revenue bonds issued by the California Health Facilities Financing Authority for the Department of Housing and Community Development’s No Place Like Home Program.


·         $374.2 million of lease revenue bonds for the State Public Works Board.


·         $272.6 million of lease revenue bonds issued by the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank for the California State Teacher’s Retirement System.


·         $2.33 billion of conduit revenue bonds issued by various state financing authorities, including those chaired by the State Treasurer.

The refunding of older, higher-interest General Obligation (GO) bonds in favor of today’s lower interest rates will save taxpayers $883 million over the next 20 years, or $742.7 billion on a present value basis. Also of note was the bond-rating upgrades from Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Investors Service in August and October. Fitch Ratings upgraded California’s GO bond rating from “AA-” to “AA”  and Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the state’s GO bonds to “Aa2” from “Aa3.” In publicizing the rating change, Fitch cited, among other reasons, reductions in budgetary borrowings, and the continuing commitment to set aside funds for California’s rainy day fund.

I want to thank you in advance for reading this latest update of STO activities. I am very proud of our successes in the first year of my administration. It is an honor and privilege to serve you — #ILoveMyJob.

In Peace & Friendship,






Half-year Overview


Treasurer Ma actively sponsored legislation during her first year in office with the following signed into law by Governor Newsom in the latter half of the year:

·         AB 853 (Smith) – Addresses one of the greatest financial burdens of paying for college — rent. This legislation authorizes ScholarShare 529, California’s college savings plan, to pay rent and other qualified expenses directly to the institution from the beneficiary’s ScholarShare account, if the beneficiary makes the request.


·         AB 872 (Aguiar-Curry) – Closes a loophole in the tax code by protecting children living on a small family farm from a property tax reassessment in the event they become owners of the farm after the death of a parent, under limited circumstances. This bill is narrowly drafted to address an inequity in California’s complicated reassessment laws.



Financial Wellness

Expanding Access to Portable Retirement Savings Accounts for Private Sector Workers
CalSavers, the groundbreaking new retirement savings program, completed its pilot project and opened fully statewide in July. By December, the program had more than 3,200 funded accounts and $1.2 million in assets, all well before the first deadline for employers to comply with the new law in June 2020. See or a schedule of the three-year rollout. In October, CalSavers opened for “gig” workers, the self-employed, and any other self-enrollment. The program will provide access to a simple, portable retirement savings option for the more than seven million hard-working Californians who don’t have access to a retirement plan at work.




California Green Bond Development Committee
The committee held its first meeting in June and its second in November. It is an ad hoc group appointed by the State Treasurer to promote and expand the use of green bonds for climate-resilient infrastructure in California. The wider use of green bonds will be a catalyst for greater investment in climate-friendly investments.

The intent of the Treasurer is to enlist persons with backgrounds in governmental finance, infrastructure development and finance, facilities management, climate- change accounting and measurement, environmental and finance policy, and related disciplines. Consistent with the Treasurer’s philosophy of inclusive and transparent government, the committee is designed to exemplify the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion .




Private Activity, Tax-Exempt Bonds
In September, the California Debt Limit Allocation  Committee (CDLAC) board, chaired by Treasurer Ma, approved a provisional private activity bond allocation of $300 million for Virgin Trains USA / XpressWest to finance a ground-breaking high-speed rail line that will connect Southern California to Las Vegas. Early projections estimate 10,000 construction jobs and more than 1,200 housing units .   




New State Tax Credits and Regulation Changes
The California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (CTCAC) administers federal and state low-income housing tax credit programs. Traditionally CTCAC has administered approximately $100 million per year in state tax credits. With the passage this year of AB 101, CTCAC is providing an additional $500 million in state tax credits specifically to target new construction of affordable units, beginning in 2020.

In October 2019, new regulation changes that streamline the application process for these new state tax credits were approved by CTCAC, which is chaired by the Treasurer. The regulation changes will promote production, spur new innovations, and improve cost containment efforts involving affordable housing .



Community Outreach

Community Outreach
One priority of the Treasurer’s External Affairs team is to build strong, strategic relationships with groups with missions similar to the Treasurer’s and her programs. This included outreach to Economic Development Corporations and chambers around the state to promote affordable housing, small business incentives, energy efficiency, retrofit financing, and much more. External Affairs also :

·         Sponsored more than twenty small business and financial empowerment workshops and conferences throughout California serving hundreds of constituents and providing information on the numerous Boards, Committees and Authorities (BCAs) chaired by Treasurer Ma, including CalSavers, ScholarShare 529, TCAC, CDLAC, CalABLE, CPCFA, and CAEATFA. The events gave constituents direct access to a point of contact on the Treasurer’s team to discuss their concerns and interests.










California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, 915 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814, United States
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