LOS ANGELES -- California officials expect ratings this week for the state's estimated $400 million issue of revenue anticipation warrants scheduled for June 23.
The state's top finance officials met with rating agencies in New York City Friday to explain the rationale for the sale and the security for the warrants.
Gray Davis, the California controller, said last week that proceeds will enable the financially troubled state to meet obligations through the fiscal year that ends June 30. The reimbursement warrants. which are being called revenue anticipation warrants, will be structured like short-term notes, Mr. Davis said.
The planned sale marks the first time in a decade the state has had to rely on such warrants to address a cash crisis.
Regular state revenues from various sources are expected to provide adequate funds to redeem the warrants when they mature July 24, even if state officials fail to agree on a budget by the time the new fiscal year begins July 1, Mr. Davis noted.
"Even [under] the most adverse circumstances, we will have three times the coverage" in cash required to redeem the warrants, Mr. Davis said, adding that "this instrument is the closest thing to a lead-pipe cinch."
The coverage will be even stronger if the Legislature and Gov. Pete Wilson agree on a budget by July 1, thereby enabling the state to sell more than $4 billion of revenue anticipation notes, Mr. Davis added.
To provide extra security, Mr. Davis said, the state has entered into a standby repurchase agreement with Morgan Guaranty Trust Co. and Bank of America to guarantee that the banks will buy a refunding issue if the warrants cannot be redeemed July 24.
"If Gray Davis looks into the coffers on July 24 and they've got enough money, fine," said William P. Hansen Jr., a vice president of Morgan Guaranty in San Francisco. "If they don't have enough, they will do refunding warrants and we will be there with a bid."
The initial warrant issue on June 23 will be sold through competitive bids.
State Treasurer Kathleen Brown last week said the warrants are a "secure credit," adding that she expected a "good rating."
Previous California short-term issues received the highest marks possible from rating agency officials.
But some traders, unable to resist the RAW acronym, are jokingly calling the sale "the raw deal of 1992."