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    Entries in St. Louis (3)

    Thursday
    Apr142016

    College Savings Accounts Aren’t Just About the Money

    Missouri's treasurer says 529 programs are only one piece of the college puzzle.
    BY  APRIL 14, 2016

    Every summer, staff at the nonprofit Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis spends the majority of their time in painful conversations with low-income families whose oldest child has been accepted to a college they can’t afford. The families bring their financial aid offers to these meetings with the hopes that the foundation will help them find a way to make it work.

    But what they often learn, says Faith Sandler, the foundation’s executive director, is that paying back the loan would strain them to the breaking point. It’s crushing news. The Scholarship Foundation, she says, can’t “award to a needy student if that’s the kind of situation we’re contributing to. It’s a really difficult position for us to be in.”

    That’s why the foundation jumped at a chance to partner with Missouri when it began offering matching grants in 2011 to lower-income families that start an account in MOST, the state's 529 college savings plan. The foundation set up and began contributing money to savings accounts for needy eighth graders. The idea wasn’t necessarily to significantly offset the cost of college for those kids, but was to set their families’ expectations and get them to start planning. “I think what we really want to do is to try and have smarter conversations earlier so we can avoid those horrible moments,” Sandler says.

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    Thursday
    Feb112016

    Rethinking the Game Plan for Stadium Bonds

    Is a 30-year bond realistic when the economic lives of stadiums are proving to be much shorter?
    BY  FEBRUARY 11, 2016

    In the world of sports stadiums, 20 is the new 30.

    Stadiums are typically financed through bonds that take 30 years to pay off. But their useful life isn't always that long.

    Just take last month’s announcement that the St. Louis Rams would be decamping to Los Angeles, leaving behind its 20-something football stadium for a shiny new one. The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority is still paying off a portion of the $259 million in bonds it issued to build the Rams a new stadium when they moved from L.A. in 1995.

    It's not the only issuer paying off 30-year debt for a project that didn't make it the full life of the bond. In Georgia, the Atlanta Falcons are moving to a new stadium next year even though the Georgia Dome is less than 25 years old. The San Antonio Spurs left the Alamodome in 2003, just 10 years after it was built.

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    Friday
    Jan292016

    The Week in Public Finance: How Budgetless Illinois Still Runs, Spending Cuts Coming and St. Louis' Not-So-Big NFL Loss

    A roundup of money (and other) news governments can use.
    BY  JANUARY 29, 2016

    Avoiding the Bill Collectors

    Illinois is one of two states that still has no budget this year. How does it keep running? Partly, by letting its bills stack up.

    Illinois law lets the state defer paying bills until the following fiscal year -- a tool the state has used liberally for years. Because of that, the state’s unpaid bills have now climbed to a total of $6.6 billion, a backlog equal to 19 percent of what the state spends from its general fund. “If the state fails to address its structural imbalance for subsequent years,” warned Moody's Investors Service, “the payment backlog will swell to $25 billion, or 64 percent of expenditures” over the next three years.

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