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    Entries in debt (11)

    Friday
    Aug112017

    The Week in Public Finance: Bankruptcy Looms in Hartford, Worries About the Sales Tax and Puerto Rico's Many Defaults

    BY  AUGUST 11, 2017
    Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin (AP/Jessica Hill)

    Bankruptcy Is On the Table in Hartford

    Over the past several months, the shadow of a potential bankruptcy has loomed large over Connecticut’s capital city. Hartford is struggling to close a $50 million budget hole -- nearly 10 percent of its spending -- and has stagnant revenues. As a result, it has been downgraded into junk status.

    Hartford officials have already cut the budget to the bone, and with one of the highest property tax rates in the state, Mayor Luke Bronin says he won't raise them more. So now the question is, will the financially beleaguered state -- which already pays for half of the city's budget -- step in with more aid? Connecticut, which is facing a two-year, $3.5 billion deficit, has yet to pass a budget more than one month into the fiscal year.

    Meanwhile, the city is likely trying to restructure its debt with bondholders. But if that is unsuccessful, it could seek permission from Gov. Dannel Malloy to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Either way, things are coming to a head with a $3.8 million debt payment due in September and another $26.9 million payment deadline in October.

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    Friday
    Jun092017

    The Week in Public Finance: Kansas' Experiment Ends, Alaska Still Has No Budget and Keeping Track of Debt

    BY  JUNE 9, 2017

    Kansas is rolling back its controversial 2012 income tax cuts after the Republican-controlled legislature this week succeeded in overriding a veto by GOP Gov. Sam Brownback.

    The state is facing a $900 million budget shortfall and has struggled under budget deficits since the tax cuts went into effect. With the new legislation, the state’s income taxes will increase, although most tax rates will still be lower than they were before the 2012 cuts. The increases are expected to generate more than $1.2 billion for the state over the next two years. Opponents of the action call it a $1.2 billion take hike on Kansans.

    On Thursday, the ratings agency Moody's Investors Service applauded the legislature's move, calling it "a significant step" toward achieving a sustainable budget.The action comes four months after lawmakers failed to override another Brownback veto preserving a tax loophole that lets scores of business owners pay no income tax.

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    Wednesday
    May172017

    Fresh Off Another Downgrade, Connecticut Has a Plan to Lower Borrowing Costs

    But observers disagree about whether it will work.
    BY  MAY 17, 2017

    Besieged by budget shortfalls, Connecticut's credit rating was downgraded in recent days by Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service. The downgrades were the state’s fourth and fifth in the past year alone. But if State Treasurer Denise Nappier gets her way, that credit hit might not matter the next time Connecticut goes to sell bonds.

    Nappier wants the state to start offering investors revenue bonds that are paid back directly from the state’s income tax revenues. Called tax-secured revenue bonds, these new bonds would be offered in place of general obligation bonds, which are backed by the state’s general revenue collections. Nappier’s office believes the dedicated income stream would mean the bonds would fetch ratings as high as AAA, resulting in a better interest rate and lower debt service costs.

    The idea has received mixed reviews.While some observers call it a product that will offer comfort to bondholders wary of Connecticut’s troubles, others say it’s a “financial engineering gamble” designed to game the market. “To create something out of nothing -- they’re not being more fiscally responsible by doing it this way,” says Municipal Market Analytics’ Lisa Washburn.

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    Friday
    May122017

    The Week in Public Finance: Revenue Relief in 2018, Good GDP News and the Debt-Shy

    BY  MAY 12, 2017

    A Revenue Pick-Me-Up?

    For the past two fiscal years, tax revenue has lagged. A new analysis, though, predicts states may soon see some relief.

    A report this week by S&P Global Ratings says the climate may be right for “a revenue rebound” in fiscal 2018. A big reason, writes analyst Gabe Petek, is that investors may have held out in 2016 on cashing out stocks because they hoped a Trump presidency would give them a more favorable tax climate for their capital gains. With tax reform now looking like it’ll take longer, investors are more likely to cash out sooner. Petek says job growth and recent interest rate hikes will also benefit state income and sales tax growth in fiscal 2018.

    That's good news given that a new analysis by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government found that state tax revenue last year grew just 1.2 percent and actually declined by one-tenth of a percent after adjusting for inflation. It’s the weakest performance since 2010 and a major drop from 4.7 percent growth in fiscal 2015.

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    Friday
    Apr072017

    The Week in Public Finance: States Warned of 'Profound Shift' in Finances, Hurting in Illinois and More

    BY  APRIL 7, 2017

    State Finances to Experience a 'Profound Shift'

    Some states might soon be facing a come to Jesus moment. That was the sobering message this week from a senior analyst at S&P Global Ratings, who warned that a “profound shift” is occurring in state finances pressured by pension debt, slow revenue growth and demographic changes.

    Gabe Petek noted Illinois, Kentucky and New Jersey are particularly vulnerable as they have persistently struggled to balance budgets during one of the longest economic expansion periods in modern U.S. history. But they’re not the only ones who should be put on notice. "This long period of relative calm may have lulled some people into complacency when it comes to state finances," he wrote in an editorial for The Hill. "It shouldn’t have."

    In addition to slower revenue growth, declining worker-to-beneficiary ratios in state retirement systems and rising Medicaid enrollments "have meant that fiscal stress is no longer confined to recessionary times," he wrote.

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