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    Entries in Hartford (3)

    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
    May192017

    The Week in Public Finance: Recalculating Pension Debt, Hartford Discusses the 'B' Word and Prudent Rainy Day Policies

    BY  MAY 19, 2017

    new analysis by Josh Rauh at Stanford University's Hoover Institution says state and local governments’ collective unfunded pension liabilities are actually about three times the amount they claim. Rauh, a finance professor who has long been a critic of public pension accounting, arrived at his figure by assigning pension plans a much lower assumed investment rate of return.

    Pension plans in 2015 collectively reported about $1.3 trillion in unfunded liabilities. In other words, they have about 72 percent of the assets they need to meet their estimated total liabilities. That figure assumes plans will earn an average of 7.4 percent each year on their investments.

    Rauh, pointing to the wild swings of the stock market and the fact that pensions are putting more of their assets into volatile, alternative investments, says that assumption is too risky. He argues it's more responsible to consider a rate of return closer to what long-term bonds earn: slightly less than 3 percent. Under those assumptions, Rauh says unfunded U.S. public pension liabilities would roughly triple to $3.8 trillion, or less than half-funded.

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    Friday
    Jan202017

    The Week in Public Finance: Hartford in Crisis, Pension Rates Move Down and More

    Bad News for Hartford, Conn.

    A report from the Yankee Institute this week warned Connecticut’s capital is careening toward insolvency. “Hartford will likely face bankruptcy unless the state intervenes in the coming months,” wrote Stephen Eide, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute who authored the report.

    Connecticut has repeatedly struggled with slow growth and state budget deficits, but that economic imbalance is even more exaggerated with its urban centers. The report warns that Bridgeport, Waterbury and New Haven also have declining tax bases and rising pension obligations -- just not to the extent that Hartford does.

    More than one-third of Hartford residents live in poverty, the highest rate in the nation in cities larger than 100,000. What's more, the city has increased its debt and structural budget deficit to stay afloat. Between 2016 and 2018, Hartford’s debt service expenses are projected to increase from $23 million to $45 million, and then reach $60 million in fiscal 2021.

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