State pays off bonds early, saving taxpayers $160M

Gov. Phil Murphy and state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio announced Thursday that the Department of the Treasury has successfully completed the most recent effort to retire outstanding debt, saving taxpayers some $160 million and reducing the state’s total debt by almost $500 million.

The announcement is a continuation of efforts by the administration, which has allocated more than $9.25 billion toward the Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund to improve the state’s long-term fiscal health and substantially reduce outstanding debt.

Since the inception of the fund, the state has defeased a total of $3.686 billion in bond principal, saving state taxpayers $1.358 billion in interest expense.

“Today’s announcement marks a significant step in our administration’s commitment to strengthen our state’s finances,” Murphy said. “By deploying almost $500 million to retire outstanding debt, we are continuing our pledge to lessen the burden on New Jersey taxpayers and create a more affordable state. Paying down our debt in a fiscally responsible way not only saves taxpayer money, but it also frees up funding to invest back into making New Jersey a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.”

Muoio obviously was thrilled, too.

“This latest successful round of defeasance is a testament to the talented and hard-working staff in our Office of Public Finance,” she said. “The substantial savings generated continues to further the governor’s goal of providing for a stronger, fairer and more affordable state.”

Heres’ a breakdown of what the state did:

  • Bonds defeased: Between Oct. 19-Jan. 10, the state conducted six separate purchases of U.S. Treasury securities using $500 million available for debt defeasance in the New Jersey Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund. In total, $484 million in New Jersey Economic Development Authority School Facilities Construction Bonds, N.J. General Obligation Bonds and N.J. Building Authority Bonds were defeased.
  • Savings: The bonds that have been defeased had a total debt service cost of $660 million, including principal and interest, over their remaining life. When measured against the cost of purchasing the securities, the net savings to the state is $160 million over the life of the bonds.