• Alexis Sturm will handle bond sales, debt and capital issues
  • Illinois "cautious'' on bond sales, governor's office says

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hired Alexis Sturm, an official with the comptroller’s office, to handle bond sales for the cash-strapped state.

Sturm started Tuesday as a deputy director of the management and budget office, said Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Rauner. In that role, she will also oversee revenue analysis and some agency budgets. Sturm was the director of research for the comptroller and previously served as a senior bond analyst with the governor’s budget office.

Sturm will be tasked with raising money for the state as it wrestles with budget shortfalls and a swelling debt to its retirement system that’s left it with the lowest credit rating among U.S. states. Bondholders have been demanding higher premiums to buy securities sold by Illinois, which remains without a budget for the year that began in July because of a political deadlock between Rauner, a Republican, and the Democrat-controlled legislature.

The extra yield that investors demand to own 10-year Illinois bonds rather than top-rated debt increased to as much as 1.94 percentage points late last month, almost twice what it was in May 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Jessica Akey, who previously oversaw debt for the state, left in July after less than three months on the job. Kim Fowler, general counsel for the budget office and a bond attorney, had been handling the role since Akey’s departure.

Kelly, the governor’s spokeswoman, said the state is planning to issue bonds in the current budget year, though the specifics have yet to be decided.

The state “is being cautious about bond sales at this time,” Kelly said in an e-mail. "It does expect to sell some bonds this year, but is not ready to announce amounts or sale dates.”

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