Mississippi joins neighboring states in buying Israel Bonds

Following in the footsteps of a majority of states, on March 27, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law allowing the state to invest a maximum of $20 million in Israel Bonds.

The bill authorizes “a portion” of excess state funds to be invested in bonds “issued, assumed or guaranteed by the State of Israel” provided that they have a credit rating of AAA and have a higher rate of return than U.S. bonds. House Bill 747, introduced by Rep. Hank Zuber of Ocean Springs, passed 113-2 on Jan. 31 and was sent to the Senate.

A similar bill, SB-2051, had been introduced in the Senate by Joey Fillingane of Sumrall. It was passed on Feb. 8 with an amendment that the investment be denominated in dollars, which Israel Bonds are. Another change capped the investment at no more than $20 million.

On Feb. 28, the House passed the Senate bill, 118-2, then passed an amended version on March 1, 116-1.

On March 2, it was returned to the Senate for concurrence. The House amendments passed the Senate, 42-10, on March 15.

Alabama currently holds $4 million in Israel Bonds, while Louisiana has $25 million and Georgia has $10 million.

In February, Florida’s Department of Financial Services announced it would increase its investment in Israel bonds to $50 million. The State Board of Administration also holds $55 million in Israel Bonds.

In August 2017, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson signed legislation making Arkansas the 27th state to permit the governmental purchase of Israel Bonds, and made its first purchase of $20 million in February.

The state with the largest holdings of Israel Bonds is Ohio, with $200 million.

Israel Bonds, the Development Corp. for Israel, was established in 1951 to underwrite securities so the Israeli government could borrow money for infrastructure development and immigrant absorption. Since 2013, Israel Bonds has sold over $1 billion annually in the United States, featuring competitive interest rates and a track record of never defaulting.

In 2016, Israel Bonds launched an initiative to combat on-campus anti-Israel boycott activism by encouraging the donation of Israel Bonds to universities.