Karen's Feed
Dec 19, 2012

Illinois public unions contest pension reform plans

CHICAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Illinois public sector labor
union leaders on Wednesday pushed back against proposals to
reform state pensions that could reduce their benefits, warning
that they would file a lawsuit if necessary.

In early January, the state legislature could debate a plan
unveiled by House lawmakers this month that would boost workers’
pension contributions, raise retirement ages and limit
cost-of-living increases for retirees. The aim is to fully fund
the state’s five pension funds in 30 years.

Dec 19, 2012

Illinois’ public unions push back on pension reform plans

CHICAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Illinois public sector labor
union leaders on Wednesday pushed back against proposals to
reform state pensions that could reduce their benefits, warning
that they would file a lawsuit if necessary.

In early January, the state legislature could debate a plan
unveiled by House lawmakers this month that would boost workers’
pension contributions, raise retirement ages and limit
cost-of-living increases for retirees with the aim of fully
funding the state’s five pension funds in 30 years.

Dec 14, 2012

Michigan lawmakers OK new emergency manager bill

Dec 13 (Reuters) – A bill that will give fiscally
troubled local Michigan governments like Detroit’s, as well as
school districts, a set of options ranging from bankruptcy to
arbitration was approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday.

The bill, which senators approved by a 23 to 15 vote, would
replace Michigan’s previous emergency manager laws, including a
2011 law that was repealed by voters in November.

Dec 10, 2012

Illinois governor says pension woes hurting infrastructure program

CHICAGO, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Illinois’ inability to so far
fix its woefully underfunded public pension system could derail
plans by the state to continue to issue debt to fund an ongoing
infrastructure improvement program, Governor Pat Quinn said on
Monday.

“You can’t do that building and issue those bonds if you
have this severe situation overlooking you,” the Democratic
governor said at a media briefing hosted by Bloomberg News,
adding that the state could face more downgrades of its already
relatively low credit ratings among states.

Dec 5, 2012

For Detroit, speculation mounts of Michigan-appointed manager

Dec 5 (Reuters) – Ongoing fiscal distress and political
turmoil in Detroit are ratcheting up speculation that the state
of Michigan could step in and appoint someone to oversee the
city’s finances.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon met with some top Detroit
officials on Wednesday amid growing concerns about “the city’s
near-term ability to meet its financial obligations and its
long-term viability,” Michigan’s Treasury Department said in a
statement.

Dec 3, 2012

Analysis: Fiscal struggle puts Detroit under credit cloud

By Karen Pierog

(Reuters) – Detroit’s fiscal clock is ticking down again as the city faces running out of money by the end of the year unless a political squabble between the mayor and city council can be resolved.

Without a resolution, the state of Michigan will not release cash to keep the city running. Mayor Dave Bing, who contends that bankruptcy or bond defaults are not on the horizon, is prepared to put city workers on unpaid leave to keep the struggling local government operating.

Nov 10, 2012

Illinois faces own fiscal cliff after big Democratic election win

CHICAGO, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Illinois Democratic lawmakers,
facing the state’s own version of the fiscal cliff, are expected
to use their newly won veto-proof majority in the legislature to
solve the state’s impending financial crisis with permanently
higher tax rates on personal income and corporations.

Illinois, like California, on Tuesday elected a Democratic
supermajority. The outcome was thanks mainly to the handiwork of
powerful state House Speaker Michael Madigan, who deftly drew
new districts to favor Democrats following the 2010 U.S. Census.

Oct 18, 2012

Chicago’s Cook County wants tax on bullets to pay for healthcare

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The top executive of the county that includes Chicago took aim at gun owners on Thursday, proposing a tax on bullets and firearms to help defray healthcare expenses associated with the high rate of gun violence.

If approved by the Cook county commission, the nation’s third most populous county could be the first major metropolitan area in the nation to impose a tax as a form of gun control, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Oct 18, 2012

Analysis: Presidential tax plans could bruise municipal bond market

By Karen Pierog

(Reuters) – Tax policies proposed by the two presidential candidates may differ in several ways, but both could roil the $3.7 trillion U.S. municipal bond market, popular with wealthy investors and vital for the financing needs of states, cities and other issuers of tax-exempt debt.

Demand for munis, which offer investment income free from federal taxation, may be reduced if the proposals floated by either incumbent Democrat Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney were to take effect.

Sep 19, 2012

Analysis: Options limited to finance Chicago teachers contract

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago public school teachers returned to their classrooms on Wednesday but thorny questions remained over how Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the cash-strapped school system will pay for the tentative contract that ended a strike of more than a week.

The three-year contract, which has an option for a fourth year and which awaits a ratification vote by the 29,000-member Chicago Teachers Union, calls for an average 17.6 percent pay raise over four years and some benefit improvements.