LOS ANGELES -- Gov. Pete Wilson of California this week proposed saving the fiscally troubled state $200 million by refinancing $1.2 billion of existing lease-revenue bond issues, but the plan faces stiff opposition from the state treasurer.
Gov. Wilson said Tuesday that the refinancing would produce large savings by capitalizing on low tax-exempt interest rates.
California faces an estimated budget shortfall of at least $4.9 billion in fiscal 1992 and 1993, and Gov. Wilson views the refinancing as a way to help the state bridge budget gaps million without legislative action. But Treasurer Kathleen Brown in a statement rejected the proposal, saying a refinancing could increase debt service costs.
"Despite the temptation for short-term cash, the state would pay long-term consequences," Ms. Brown said. "Our reputation would be likened to that of New York looking for quick fixes."
Ms. Brown argued that the refinancing would cost more money by increasing the state's cumulative debt service on the bonds by $356 million over the next 20 years.
Following the governor's proposal, Ms. Brown sent a letter to Thomas W. Hayes, the state finance director, to express her disapproval.
"I see no real economic savings to the state [from the plan] and am concerned that by increasing future debt service, we surely worsen the budget situation in years to come," Ms. Brown wrote.
The origin of the refinancing idea is unclear.
A spokeswoman for the treasurer said the plan was proposed to the treasurer's office by outside advisers and requires further analysis. She said it may have been pitched to the governor prematurely by other finance officials. Officials in the Department of Finance did not comment on the matter.
The refinancing proposal targets more than $1.2 billion of lease-revenue bonds outstanding, comprising nine issues. State officials did not specify the potential structure for the suggested refinancing or when it might occur.
The state Public Works Board sold eight of the nine bond issues. Those bond issues are: $75.3 million of 1985 Series A bonds for the Southern Maximum Security Complex; $7.2 million of 1986 Series A bonds for the Trustees of California State University, San Luis Obispo; $14.6 million 1986 Series A bonds for the Trustees of California State University, Long Beach; $141.1 million 1986 Series for Amador County State Prison; $57 million 1986 Series A bonds for the Energy Efficiency Pool Program; $307.6 million 1986 Series A bonds for the Corcoran State Prison; $301.4 million 1987 Series A bonds for the Del Norte State Prison, and $159.3 million 1990 Series A bonds for the Madera County State Prison.
The ninth bond issue was sold by the Los Angeles State Building Authority, totaling $187.1 million of 1988 Series A bonds for the Ronald Reagan Building.
Gov. Wilson on Tuesday also called on state lawmakers to meet in a special session to consider implementing $935 million in spending cuts. The Legislature is in recess and is scheduled to return to Sacramento on Jan. 6. It remains unclear if legislators will reconvene before January.