Karen's Feed
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.

May 1, 2013

New pension reform plans emerge, compete in Illinois legislature

CHICAGO, May 1 (Reuters) – The Illinois Senate president and
labor leaders on Wednesday began pushing a new plan to reform
the nation’s worst-funded state pension system that they believe
can pass an expected constitutional challenge while still saving
the state money.

The new plan would compete with another bill already on its
way to a vote in the state’s House of Representatives.

May 1, 2013

Illinois Senate passes gambling bill with Chicago casino

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Illinois Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would bring much-need revenue to the cash-strapped state by expanding gambling and giving Chicago its first casino.

The 32-20 vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate sent the measure to the House.

The addition of five new casinos and 1,200 slot games at race tracks is expected to generate about $1.2 billion in one-time revenue for the state from initial license and other fees and about $269 million in recurring revenue once the bill is fully implemented, according to a legislative analysis.

Apr 30, 2013

Illinois House speaker offers comprehensive pension fix

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Tuesday proposed a comprehensive plan to fix the state’s sagging public pension system – the worst-funded state pension system in the country – with only a month to go in the legislature’s spring session.

The 271-page measure sets a cap on salaries used to determine pensions, limits cost-of-living adjustments on pensions for future retirees, increases retirement ages for workers currently under 45 years old, and hikes worker pension contributions by 1 percent over each of the next two fiscal years.

Apr 15, 2013

Some cities ditch Build America Bonds as sequester hits stimulus

April 15 (Reuters) – Monona, Wisconsin, took a step on
Monday that would have been unthinkable just a year ago: it
refunded $7.67 million of taxable Build America Bonds in the
U.S. municipal market.

The bonds launched in 2009 as part of the economic stimulus
plan have lost their luster since the federal government made
the attractive rebates paid to BABs issuers – the element that
made them popular with issuers and investors – subject to the
across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

Apr 8, 2013

Analysis: Illinois pension fix faces political, legal hurdles

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Illinois lawmakers begin a two-month push on Monday to enact major pension reform, under pressure from taxpayers, workers, business groups and bond investors to fix the worst-funded state pension system in the United States.

The key objective: To put together a package of reform measures that are capable of addressing a nearly $100 billion unfunded pension liability, while still standing up to anticipated court challenges.

Apr 8, 2013

Illinois pension fix faces political, legal hurdles

CHICAGO, April 7 (Reuters) – Illinois lawmakers begin a
two-month push on Monday to enact major pension reform, under
pressure from taxpayers, workers, business groups and bond
investors to fix the worst-funded state pension system in the
United States.

The key objective: To put together a package of reform
measures that are capable of addressing a nearly $100 billion
unfunded pension liability, while still standing up to
anticipated court challenges.

Mar 10, 2013

History suggests Detroit bid to avoid state takeover is futile

By Karen Pierog

(Reuters) – The Detroit City Council will argue its case on Tuesday against a state takeover of the city, but history shows a successful challenge would be unprecedented.

So far, none of the five Michigan cities declared in financial emergency has been able to change the state government’s position through a hearing, Terry Stanton, a spokesman for the Michigan Treasury Department said.