Colorado can now invest in Israel bonds

Published on Friday, 10 May 2013 by Marina Rozhansky

Colorado can now invest in Israel bonds
By Andrea Jacobs

Israel is the beneficiary of a new bill approved by the Colorado legislature that expands the state treasurer’s scope to invest in double-A rated Israeli bonds.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed SB 13-176 into law to enthusiastic applause at the AIPAC Colorado annual event, Sunday, May 5.

According to preliminary estimates, the historic bill will allow State Treasurer Walker Stapleton to make investments in Israeli bonds by August, 2013.

SB 176, led by primary co-sponsors State Senate Majority Leader Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) and Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Mark Scheffel (R-Parker), sailed through the Senate April 23.

The House, led by primary co-sponsors State Reps. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) and Angela Williams (D-Denver), passed the measure 60-4 without debate on May 1.

Currently, 23 states in the US authorize their treasuries to invest in Israel bonds, which continue to excel in a flailing global economy.

Rep. Williams told the IJN that Rep. Justin Everett knocked on her door very early in the session with an unexpected proposal.

“He said, ‘You have been personally requested to carry this bill with me in the House by Mr. Larry Mizel,’” she says. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

Williams, who chairs the business, labor, economic and work force committee, has an intricate knowledge of facts and figures.

“I’m a CPA,” she says. “When you look at putting your money in funds or mutual funds for your retirement, you want to see all the tools in the toolbox. This bill gives the state treasurer more tools.”

Prior to the bill’s passage, the treasurer was only empowered to invest in US bonds and securities.

The addition of Israel to Walker Stapleton’s portfolio “is an option for investment,” Williams notes. “It isn’t mandatory. The treasurer won’t treat this any differently when determining his financial options for the state of Colorado.”

By investing in double-A rated Israeli bonds, Colorado assumes the role of confident lender because Israel makes an extremely reliable customer.

“Bonds are a form of debt,” explains attorney and pro-Israel activist Don Jacobson. “Colorado is saying, ‘I’ll give you some money now and you’ll pay the money back to me with interest.’

“SB 176 is good for Israel because it provides the country with another source of borrowing, and it’s good for Colorado because historically Israel has always paid 100% of it debts.

“It’s very safe.”

ACCORDING to the legislation, the Colorado General Assembly “finds and declares that the only purpose of this act is to clarify the scope of the state treasurer’s investment authority and . . . is not intended to express any position of the general assembly regarding foreign policy of the United States.”

Despite language to the contrary, SB 176 appears to represent a mutually beneficial financial strategy that also voices a level of solidarity for Israel.

Jacobson feels the bill carries weight with AIPAC “because it’s a recognition from an American state government that Israel is here to stay, it’s an ally, we trust Israel with our money and we are willing to rely on the country.”

Besides yielding positive financial outcomes, he says this new opportunity reflects “a desirable social and political investment. The symbolic significance extends beyond its financial value.”

While Rep. Williams stresses that the purpose of SB 176 is to broaden the state treasurer’s ability to make wise investments on behalf of the state, it also solidifies the ties between Israel and Colorado.

“This helps strengthen the relationship that Colorado has with Israel,” she says. “As a nation, we have a strong connection to Israel.

“I think it’s nice that we can now strengthen our relationship as a state.”

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