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    Entries in downgrade (3)

    Friday
    Jun102016

    The Week in Public Finance: Punishment for Illinois, Budget Battles and New Jersey's Win

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  JUNE 10, 2016

    A Battle Over Illinois’ Downgrade

    Illinois was downgraded this week to two steps above junk status by Moody’s Investors Service. The downgrade is largely due to the state’s inability to pass a budget for the past year and a half. A political stalemate has crippled lawmaking in the state and Illinois -- already the lowest-rated state -- is being docked now with a Baa2 rating. The state’s current budget gap has only worsened over the past year. The structural budget deficit, including what Illinois is supposed be spending on pensions but isn’t, amounts to 15 percent of total general fund expenditures, Moody’s said. A day after the Moody's downgrade, Standard & Poor's also downgraded Illinois.

    Apparently unperturbed by the fact that its overwhelming debt is what got it into this pickle, Illinois plans to borrow a half-billion in bonds later this month. The downgrade will likely increase the interest rate Illinois will have to pay on those bonds and impact the state’s outstanding $26 billion in debt.

    Not long after the downgrade, the world’s largest money manager said investors should boycott Illinois’ upcoming sale.

    “We as municipal market pa

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    Friday
    Apr082016

    The Week in Public Finance: Rating Downgrades, the War on Cities and More

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  APRIL 8, 2016

    Downgrade Week

    Louisiana and Atlantic City, N.J., were slapped with credit rating downgrades this week as both continue to struggle with revenue shortfalls and other budget problems.

    In the Bayou State, lawmakers are still stuck with a $750 million budget gap for the 2017 fiscal year, which starts on July 1, even after approving some tax hikes this year. Fitch Ratings said the current budget deficit has been caused in part by “overly optimistic revenue expectations” and by not budgeting enough for Medicaid. The agency downgraded Louisiana’s rating from a AA to a AA-, noting the budget problem has only worsened thanks to a prolonged plunge in oil prices.

    The rating downgrade affects nearly $4 billion in outstanding debt. It will also play a role in the interest rate the state gets later this month on about a half-billion in bonds it plans to refinance. The rating comes after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Louisiana earlier this year, citing the state’s budget issues.

    Gov. John Bel Edwards, who pushed for and won some tax hikes this year, largely laid blame with his predecessor Bobby Jindal and the state legislature. Edwards plans to call a special session to address the shortfall, the second in a year.

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    Friday
    Mar252016

    Chicago‚Äôs Shockingly Bad Finances

    You’ve probably read about the Windy City’s money problems. But chances are they're worse than you thought, and a recent ruling didn't help.
    BY  MARCH 25, 2016

    You’ve probably read headlines about the Windy City’s financial woes. About how Chicago’s years of borrowing to pay for its operations has finally caught up to it. About how inadequate funding of its pensions has saddled it with huge annual payments.

    But unless you’ve been paying close attention, chances are Chicago is worse off than you think.

    The numbers are staggering. The city has about $34 billion in outstanding debt, with roughly $20 billion of that coming from its five pension plans. That’s compared with a little more than $9 billion total annual budget. The teachers’ retirement fund is short about $9.6 billion and owes an additional $6 billion to bondholders. The outstanding bonds alone exceed the system’s annual $5.8 billion budget. Overall, Chicago Public Schools has struggled to sell enough bond debt to get through the current year, and the system is even facing a possible state takeover. Both the city and the school system’s credit ratings have been downgraded to junk status.

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