Karen's Feed
Jun 20, 2013

Illinois sets July 9 deadline for plan to fix pensions

, June 19 (Reuters) – In the first sign of
compromise after weeks of political impasse, Illinois lawmakers
in a special session on Wednesday set up a rarely used
conference committee in an effort to fix the state’s woefully
under-funded pension system.

Legislative leaders agreed to a July 9 deadline for action
on the state’s $100 billion pension under-funding, and the
state’s Democratic governor, Patrick Quinn, said he plans to
call legislators back for another special session in early July.

Jun 10, 2013

Illinois leaders in conflict over pension bill after meeting

CHICAGO, June 10 (Reuters) – The Illinois public pension
system, the worst funded among U.S. states, will be tackled with
a two-prong approach that addresses both cost-savings and
constitutional concerns during a special legislative session
next week, state officials said on Monday.

But the measure, which will start in the Senate, may not
even be voted upon in the House, where Speaker Michael Madigan
said a bill his chamber passed in May to make unilateral changes
to retirement benefits was the right approach to address the
state’s nearly $100 billion unfunded pension liability.

Jun 3, 2013

Fitch cuts Illinois rating over failure to fix pensions

CHICAGO, June 3 (Reuters) – Illinois’ lowest-among-states
credit rating took a new hit on Monday as Fitch Ratings
downgraded the state’s credit just days after Illinois lawmakers
left the state capitol last week without addressing a huge
public pension funding crisis.

“Fitch believes that the burden of large unfunded pension
liabilities and growing annual pension expenses is
unsustainable, and that failure to achieve reform measures
despite the substantial focus on this topic exacerbates concern
about management’s willingness and ability to address the
state’s numerous fiscal challenges,” the rating agency said in a

Jun 3, 2013

Illinois credit concerns rise after failure to fix pensions

CHICAGO, June 3 (Reuters) – Illinois’ governor and lawmakers
this week hope to revive efforts to address the state’s pension
funding crisis, but the cloud over the state’s credit remains
dark in the wake of the state legislature’s failure on Friday to
pass pension reform before it adjourned.

Illinois’ general obligation bond rating, already the lowest
among U.S. states, could fall even lower, and investors who buy
the state’s debt are likely to demand higher interest rates to
take on increased risk, market participants told Reuters. The
state is expected to sell up to $1 billion of general obligation
bonds as early as this month as part of a $31 billion capital
improvement program.

Jun 1, 2013

Analysis: Tough going ahead on path to Illinois pension reform

By Karen Pierog

(Reuters) – As Illinois lawmakers sift through the wreckage of a session that failed to produce major pension reform for their state, they are holding out hope that meetings in the coming days could lead to a resolution not achieved after months of political wrangling.

Governor Patrick Quinn, a Democrat, said late Friday he intends to summon legislative leaders to a meeting this week to seek a compromise solution. But significant political obstacles remain.

May 31, 2013

Moody’s warns Illinois rating could fall without pension reform

CHICAGO, May 31 (Reuters) – Illinois’ credit rating with
Moody’s Investors Service, already the lowest of any state,
could fall if there is no legislative fix to address the state’s
huge public pension problem, an analyst at the credit rating
agency said on Friday.

The Illinois Senate late Thursday soundly defeated a
comprehensive pension reform bill passed by the House earlier in
May, leaving lawmakers little time to forge a compromise before
the spring legislative session is scheduled to end at midnight

May 28, 2013

Deadline near, Illinois pension reform snarled in state politics

CHICAGO, May 28 (Reuters) – With less than a week left to go
in Illinois’ spring legislative session, the future of reforms
to rein in burgeoning costs for the nation’s worst-funded public
pension system rests with the two Democrats who run the state’s
House and Senate chambers.

The Illinois legislature, which over decades has built up a
$100 billion unfunded pension liability, now is a study in
gridlock. Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and Senate
President John Cullerton each are pushing competing versions of
a fix and each refuses to take action on the other lawmaker’s

May 19, 2013

For Detroit in crisis, next six weeks determine bankruptcy fate

DETROIT (Reuters) – Bond restructurings, negotiated settlements with bondholders and bond insurers, and tough talk with unionized workers are on the agenda as Detroit’s emergency financial manager tries to meet a self-imposed, six-week deadline to decide whether the city can get through its financial crisis without a bankruptcy filing.

Kevyn Orr, a former bankruptcy lawyer, in his first report to the state of Michigan since Governor Rick Snyder appointed him, laid out last week a bracing picture of steps he may need to take to address the city’s troubles.

May 16, 2013

April income tax collections climb in many states, but may be a blip

By Karen Pierog and Lisa Lambert

(Reuters) – Personal income tax collections rose by 37 percent in April from a year ago, according to a sample of states, but the improvements may not continue as a still-shaky economy, tax cuts in some states and federal budget woes could team up to depress revenue growth.

Excluding California, which had the biggest gain of the 21 states that have so far reported collections in April, the total increase was still a solid 22 percent.

May 5, 2013

Constitutional concerns cloud future of Illinois pension reform

CHICAGO, May 5 (Reuters) – Now that the Illinois House of
Representatives has passed a plan to repair a state pension
system underfunded by $100 billion, attention is turning to the
meaning of three words in the Illinois constitution: “diminished
or impaired.”

Those words cap a clause that is designed to force Illinois
to meet obligations to its retired public sector workers. And
the state’s labor unions have vowed to go to court if the bill
that passed on Thursday, backed by the powerful Democratic House
Speaker Mike Madigan, becomes law.