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Candidate question 3 - Municipal bankruptcy

Thursday, May 11, 2017

* I asked all the Democratic gubernatorial candidates this question the other day…

Do you think municipal governments in Illinois (including school districts) should be allowed to declare bankruptcy? Why or Why not?

Answers are in order of received.

* Superintendent Bob Daiber…

No

Allowing municipal units of government to declare bankruptcy in Illinois could impair employees from receiving their full pay and benefits that may have been negotiated through a collective bargaining agreement. Furthermore, allowing bankruptcy to be declared would cast a poor image of that region whether it is a community or school district. I do not believe this is the right approach to rebuild Illinois.

* Sen. Daniel Biss…

Municipal governments are not private corporations. While it sometimes makes sense for a private company to enter into bankruptcy, restructure, and replace its decision-makers, government’s ultimate decision-maker is the public, which is irreplaceable. That’s why municipal bankruptcy is very different than corporate bankruptcy, a distinction that Governor Rauner does not understand.

The answer to the question, then, is no. Local governments should not be allowed to walk away from their obligations to their residents. Assets held in the public trust should not be sold off to Wall Street bondholders and corporate special interests. What Illinois should do instead to support struggling local governments is fix our broken revenue system, beginning by amending the constitution to allow for a graduated income tax to make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.

* Ald. Ameya Pawar…

Absolutely not. As we proved in Chicago, when everyone comes together and makes the tough choices to reform the way government works, we can reverse decades of fiscal mismanagement and make our municipalities stronger.

Unlike the strong-arm tactics of Bruce Rauner, who is holding municipalities and school districts hostage until they agree to destroy labor protections, I will work to ensure the state is a true partner with local government and reinvest in our public institutions and communities across Illinois.

* JB Pritzker…

No. Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership has destabilized our state and our infrastructure. Providing more opportunities for local government bodies to file bankruptcy can lead to increased instability and diminish borrowing power.

* Chris Kennedy campaign…

No he does not support the option of local municipal bankruptcy because it is expensive, unproven and often doesn’t yield the results intended.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

72 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    Geez, what a bunch of old-school Main Street conservatives who think a contract is a contract and that you pay your bills.

    Rauner and his pals like Zell could teach them a lesson about all the sweet paydays to be had in bankruptcy.


  2. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:32 pm:

    Yep, all these guys have their heads in the sand. Look at OC and Detroit. BK works.


  3. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:36 pm:

    ===BK works.===

    How many times have you tried it Ron?

    Also, be careful of what you wish for. IIRC, bond holders took a much bigger haircut than pensioners in Detroit.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    The bankruptcy premise is believing that munis and school districts have done “all they could” to “prevent” fiscal apocalypse.

    The fact that property taxes in Chicago don’t meet the rest of the state levels in funding schools… as an example…

    … shows leadership and being fiscally sound needs to be the approach, especially when simple benchmarks of “non-bankruptcy” options haven’t been cleared.

    That, and contracts by government should be honored.


  5. - Rocky Rosi - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:46 pm:

    You always have a public and a private view.


  6. - Earnest - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    In terms of political messaging, I’d have to give Pritzker’s answer the nod.

    In terms of content, I’d go with Biss.

    Weakest by far, Kennedy.


  7. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    47th Ward, I have no problem if bondholders take the vast majority of the hit.


  8. - Downstate - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    “That, and contracts by government should be honored.”

    Why not put it to a state constitutional vote?

    “Let the will of the people become the law of the land” Pat Quinn


  9. - former southerner - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    Ron, Your private job must be posting on this blog because your yip yapping like a little Chihuahua seems to be a constant of the blog. Bankruptcy is much like divorce, the people clamoring for it often fail to end up with what they expect but the fallout does long-term damage.


  10. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    Or all the hit.


  11. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:54 pm:

    Mr. Biss, while you are at amending the state constitution, don’t forget to remove all reference to protecting public employee benefits.


  12. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:55 pm:

    Pritzker has the best response. Note to the other candidates: four of the first five words Pritzker used were “Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership.”

    Rinse. Lather. Repeat.


  13. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    Remember, Rauner doesn’t want simple municipal bankruptcy. He wants a modified version where the bondholders are protected from any losses while the employees and vendors bear all the negative impact. Ron Sandack carried that bill for him last session.


  14. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    Ron:

    Your continued obsession with pensions is approaching the level of being pathetic.


  15. - JS Mill - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    =Why not put it to a state constitutional vote?=

    Spoken like someone want to welch on a debt.


  16. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Why is BK ok for people but not a government?


  17. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    ‘As we proved in Chicago, when everyone comes together and makes the tough choices to reform the way government works, we can reverse decades of fiscal mismanagement and make our municipalities stronger.”

    Does he really believe everyone in Chicago has “come together”?

    What tough choices has Chicago made? They certainly raised taxes and fees on middle class households but have not addressed the cost drivers of city government and CPS
    .

    They continue to scoop and toss and just kicked more pension debt down the road.

    Property tax reform is badly needed to take the pressure off struggling homeowners and shift the burden to wealthy downtown skyscrapers represented by political insiders like Speaker Madigan, Alderman Burke and Senator Cullerton.

    Why not speak out about that Alderman Pawar?


  18. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    ===Why is BK ok for people but not a government?===

    Because we no longer put debtors in prison.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    ===Note to the other candidates: four of the first five words Pritzker used were “Bruce Rauner’s failed leadership.”===

    - 47th Ward, I actually did notice, and I liked that Pritzker is understanding the ball game - Skyhook in reverse


  20. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:10 pm:

    You are putting taxpayers in debtors prison.


  21. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:13 pm:

    JS Mill, people and companies “welch” on their debt every single day. Government should have the same ability.


  22. - blankster - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    ==Mr. Biss, while you are at amending the state constitution, don’t forget to remove all reference to protecting public employee benefits.==

    I asked him that very question on his website a over a month ago - Still waiting for his answer.


  23. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:16 pm:

    blankster, the silence tells me how he feels about taxpayers.


  24. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    ==how he feels about taxpayers==

    That’s funny. I thought public employees were taxpayers too. I’ll have to let them know that they don’t need to pay those taxes.


  25. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    === Ron Sandack carried that bill for him last session. ===

    Who?


  26. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    First, let’s lay off the Welsh people. They are decent and caring and I’m sure most of them pay their debts, unlike the state of Illinois.

    Second, if you want to skip out on your debts Ron, feel free. Your credit rating will suffer for a few years, but unlike in previous generations, when borrowers knew their lendors personally, there likely won’t be any social stigma to stiffing your creditors. Some people will probably call you smart for finding a legal way to avoid your debts.

    Third, Illinois (and Chicago) has the ways and means to pay its debts. We’re neither Greece nor Puerto Rico. As other, smarter commenters have noted here many times before, there is a difference between “I cannot pay my debts,” and “I don’t want to pay my debts.” Trust me, a federal BK judge will know the difference.

    Fourth, to Anonymous, pick a nickname or don’t respond to anything I post you pathetic troll.


  27. - Lance Mannion - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    Perfect answers … for those seeking to protect unions, pensioners, and government as usual over taxpayers.


  28. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    - Ducky LaMoore -

    Ya beat me to it, lol.

    Has the factoring in of numerous (3 or more) munis or school districts declaring bankruptcy might also do to other districts?

    This wouldn’t be about isolating one or two districts, this would/could be about an option that bond buyers may want to consider?


  29. - Redraider - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    Ron is right. It really worked for Detroit. I mean it started ed a chain reaction of events in Michigan that gave the citizens of Flint great drinking water. It was in indirect effect of the bankruptcy filing that led to the Governor and his cronies taking over decisions. I would certainly trust Ron and Bruce Rauner to serve and protect smh


  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    Demoralized, how many public employees are there in Illinois vs. private sector taxpayers.


  31. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:26 pm:

    Redraider, Detroit is doing better AFTER the BK.

    Just an FYI, Flint is not Detroit.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:27 pm:

    ===how many public employees are there in Illinois vs. private sector taxpayers===

    1) Pick a name.

    2) State workers are taxpayers too.


  33. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    == how many public employees are there in Illinois vs. private sector taxpayers.==

    Is there supposed to be a point in that question? Both groups are taxpayers.


  34. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:29 pm:

    We have a coddled public sector holding the private sector hostage. It is repulsive and unfair.


  35. - Redraider - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    Anonymous FYI research the word ” indirect ” please. It was a poor decision that was made because a Governor was trying to force them to declare bankruptcy.


  36. - Downstate - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    The fundamental flaw in public sector union negotiations is that there is no “push back”.

    Private businesses can only afford so much in wages, etc. before they become non-competitive. That’s why Ford unions agreed to concessions to keep the company afloat.

    There is no corresponding leverage in negotiating with public sector unions. It’s why they still have pensions, when the rest of America does not.


  37. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:36 pm:

    ==when the rest of America does not.==

    Ahh. Another “I don’t have it so neither should you” proponent. I wasn’t aware everyone had to have the same benefit structure. I mean, my friend gets stock options and I don’t. That’s not fair. Take his away. My brother gets bonuses. Not fair. Take it away. That’s the kind of childish argument that you are making.


  38. - Dance Band on the Titanic - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:37 pm:

    “…people and companies “welch” on their debt every single day. Government should have the same ability.”

    Shouldn’t we hold government to a higher standard?


  39. - Smitty Irving - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:38 pm:

    If BK was routinely available to local governments / school districts, the South would still be legally segregated racially. It wasn’t, they’re not.


  40. - Downstate - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    Demoralized,
    Nice Red Herring attempt.
    No point in addressing the lack of push-back in negotiating with public sector unions. That’s the problem.

    I’ve been a union employee and a union employer. The lack of push-back in negotiating with public sector unions creates a death spiral for public sector finances.
    Having been on both sides of the fence, like I have, it’s much easier to see the problem.

    It’s not about envy. It’s about the problem that even FDR and JFK saw with public sector unions.


  41. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    If the contracts were simply “bad” based on the finances of them I might agree with you. The contracts also have bad non-economic provisions in them as well. The lack of push back has more to do with the negotiators being horrible negotiators than anything else.

    And I was pushing back against your “rest of America” comment. I don’t care what anyone else has. More power to them.


  42. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:55 pm:

    Seeing as one of the biggest sources of campaign cash for the Democratic politicians who frequently are in charge of negotiating pay, health care and pension benefits for public sector unions, it is no surprise the union gets their money’s worth. Why else would they donate so much money tp Democrats?

    That is the distinction between the public and private sector where negotiations are more adversarial.


  43. - Arsenal - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:56 pm:

    ==Look at OC and Detroit. BK works.==

    I’m old enough to remember when Detroit was a cautionary tale for the state.


  44. - Mama - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 3:59 pm:

    =* Chris Kennedy campaign…
    “No he does not support the option of local municipal bankruptcy because it is expensive, unproven and often doesn’t yield the results intended.” ==

    Kennedy gave the best response on local municipal bankruptcy.


  45. - Arsenal - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    ==Why is BK ok for people but not a government?==

    Because we don’t want the government to have the power to break its contracts. I mean, there’s lots of privileges that private citizens enjoy that the government does not. That’s a good thing.

    ==We have a coddled public sector holding the private sector hostage.==

    But enough about Rauner!


  46. - City Zen - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:02 pm:

    They do realize that being allowed to declare bankruptcy and actually declaring bankruptcy are two separate things?

    With a bankruptcy option on the table, it gives the municipality and the working families they represent to negotiate more favorable terms should the need arise.

    Congrats, candidates…you took an option off the bargaining table. Competent negotiators you are not.


  47. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:03 pm:

    Detroit is doing better now that it has been relieved of some of its debt burden.

    Sounds terrible.


  48. - Chicagonk - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    Municipal bankruptcy should be an option as a last resort. Chicago is not there yet. Harvey or Dolton on the other hand…


  49. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:06 pm:

    Chicago is not, but CPS is.


  50. - City Zen - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:09 pm:

    ==Municipal bankruptcy should be an option as a last resort. Chicago is not there yet. Harvey or Dolton on the other hand…==

    That would require the candidates to acknowledge Chicago’s south suburbs exist.


  51. - Diogenes in DuPage - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    Do not feed trolls.


  52. - Steve - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:12 pm:

    Rich:

    Thanks for asking a real important question on a topic that isn’t going away. It’s quite possible that there will be zero changes in the Illinois bankruptcy code. If there are no changes, it’s possible that certain vendors will no longer extend credit to certain towns in Illinois.


  53. - Arsenal - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:23 pm:

    ==Detroit is doing better now that it has been relieved of some of its debt burden.==

    That’s pretty premature, considering they just discovered an actuarial error that increased pension obligations by $80 million.

    Don’t get me wrong! There’s reasons to be optimistic about Detroit. But it’s been two years since all the conservatives were like, “We have to smack the workers around a little, or we’ll end up like Detroit!” And now Detroit is supposed to be our aspiration. Well, we see you, guys.


  54. - Downstate - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:26 pm:

    City Zen at 4:02 - NAILED IT!!!!


  55. - Earnest - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:27 pm:

    >If there are no changes, it’s possible that certain vendors will no longer extend credit to certain towns in Illinois.

    Wouldn’t the opposite be true, that adding the ability to declare bankruptcy would do that? I might not be following correctly.


  56. - Ron - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:44 pm:

    Argentina defaulted on its debt over a decade ago and creditors wrote down about 25% of it. We need this.


  57. - Cook County commoner - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 4:45 pm:

    The ch 9 Bankruptcy Code proponents should take a deep breath. Do you really want to turn over the fiscal future of a local governing body over to a judge and a creditors’ committee?

    If you want to retain some say on what happens going forward just let things devolve as they are doing. Certain pols and voters will seek to protect their constituents and others theirs.

    The apathetic citizens will stay on the side-lines until they choose to act.

    But a tension point will be reached when increased taxation, unpayable benefits, lack of job availability, no cash in the bank, etc. will no longer allow certain payments, regardless of all the nice, multi-page court orders.

    This is de facto insolvency. And then you may see some new voters at the polls which will fix things in line with the will of the people.

    As H L Mencken wrote: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”


  58. - VanillaMan - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 5:02 pm:

    Governments set their own budgets and tax rates. Letting them file for bankruptsy would be like letting football players decide on steroid usage.


  59. - Robert the 1st - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 5:29 pm:

    = would be like letting football players decide on steroid usage.=

    Like letting public unions “negotiate” with Governors they helped elect?


  60. - Anon Downstate - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 5:34 pm:

    Interesting this topic should come up today….

    “Connecticut State Capital (Hartford, Connecticut) Prepares For Bankruptcy Amid Collapse In Hedge Fund Revenue”

    Link is: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-05-10/connecticut-state-capital-prepares-bankruptcy-amid-collapse-hedge-fund-revenue

    Here’s why it is so interesting (from the article)…..

    “According to the the latest Connecticut budget released last week, the state is reeling from the consequences of sliding tax revenue from the super-rich, i.e. the state’s hedge fund managers. The latest figures showed that tax revenue from the state’s top 100 highest-paying taxpayers declined 45% from 2015 to 2016. The drop adds up to a $200 million revenue loss for Connecticut.”

    Also, remember GE corporate HQ is moving from Connecticut to Boston - over taxes and government regulations.

    Maybe our group of esteemed Democratic candidates for Governor ought to keep a wary eye on how the State of Connecticut finances are working out by relying so heavily on ‘progressive’ taxation against a very tiny portion of the state population.

    Going to get interesting…..


  61. - Anonymous - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 5:37 pm:

    Nope, it’s rational to allow a government to reorganize its debt through bankruptcy. Just like people and businesses.


  62. - Whatever - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 5:40 pm:

    Steve @ 4:12 ==If there are no changes, it’s possible that certain vendors will no longer extend credit to certain towns in Illinois.==

    Exactly backwards. As soon as it looks like the GA is going to pass a bill allowing municipal bankruptcy, nobody will extend credit to any town in Illinois, or buy any bonds. Only the fact that we can’t declare bankruptcy makes us an acceptable credit risk. Allowing local bankruptcies will guarantee more filings than the courts can handle, because no one will trust even solvent locals and the State’s delinquent payments to locals insure they can’t pay cash in advance for all that they need. This would be a disaster.


  63. - City Zen - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 6:22 pm:

    ==Governments set their own budgets and tax rates.==

    Let me know when one of them lowers tax rates after a contract is signed.


  64. - RNUG - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 6:47 pm:

    Technically, Illinois municipalities can declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy; it’s just that the hurdles are very high. They have to explicitly ask the General Assembly to enact a narrow targeted bill specifically naming them to do so. Right now I believe one Illinois entity, the Illinois Power Agency, has been so named.

    Get 60 and 30 votes, get a Governor’s signature … and then you can try to convince a judge you have no other options for cost cutting or new revenue.


  65. - Jerry - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 6:53 pm:

    It’s a silly question. Bankruptcy is inevitable, whether a legal bankruptcy or a de facto bankruptcy where the municipality, or even the state, becomes financially insolvent. Math wins in the end, no matter what words are used to describe the inevitable results.


  66. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 7:35 pm:

    –Let me know when one of them lowers tax rates after a contract is signed.–

    State of Illinois, Jan. 1, 2015


  67. - JS Mill - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 7:57 pm:

    =JS Mill, people and companies “welch” on their debt every single day. Government should have the same ability.=

    Dumbest, most ridiculous comment this year.

    =Let me know when one of them lowers tax rates after a contract is signed.=

    Word NAILED it!!!

    BTW- we lowered ours three years in a row.

    =Maybe our group of esteemed Democratic candidates for Governor ought to keep a wary eye on how the State of Connecticut finances are working out by relying so heavily on ‘progressive’ taxation against a very tiny portion of the state population.=

    McDonalds is moving to Chicago. Boeing, Cat, Con Agra….


  68. - City Zen - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 8:36 pm:

    @Word - To which contract are you referring?


  69. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 8:37 pm:

    –@Word - To which contract are you referring?–

    LOL, take your pick. State signs a lot of contracts, all the time.


  70. - City Zen - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 9:16 pm:

    ==State signs a lot of contracts, all the time.==

    Thank you for that nearly instantaneous response.

    In your example, if the contract was signed before 1/1/15, then the vendor has a legitimate beef. Put him in front of the line for full payment. If it was after 1/1/15, then the vendor knows what the situation it entered into and has a choice to execute the contract or not.


  71. - Anon Downstate - Thursday, May 11, 17 @ 9:30 pm:

    “McDonalds is moving to Chicago. Boeing, Cat, Con Agra….”
    ————-

    - McDonald’s - From Oak Brook, IL
    - Boeing - How long ago was that?
    - CAT - From Peoria, IL
    - ADM - From Decatur, IL
    - ConAgra - From Nebraska

    Ans.: “Boeing moved their corporate headquarters there in 2001 when they opted to leave Seattle for Chicago.” Only happened 16 years ago, but who’s counting…..

    Basically, with the exception of ConAgra, all we have is the City of Chicago poaching other IL based companies to leave their roots in other IL communities and relocate to Chicago.

    That’s your version of success?


  72. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, May 30, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    —Absolutely not. As we proved in Chicago, when everyone comes together and makes the tough choices to reform the way government works, we can reverse decades of fiscal mismanagement and make our municipalities stronger.—

    Is there another Chicago in the U.S. I’m not aware of? Is he referring to giving teachers a substantial raise during a time that most Chicagoans either lost their jobs or had their incomes stay flat?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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* New Illinois 104 Bridge Opens in Meredosia
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* It’s not just Microsoft: lots of tech companies are quietly helping ICE
* Become an expert in web design for under $40
* Facebook Groups may soon charge monthly subscription fees for access
* China’s plastic waste ban will leave 111 million tons of trash with nowhere to go
* Instagram Launches New 'IGTV' Video Hub for Longer-Form Content
* Instagram now has 1 billion users worldwide
* ZTE nubia Z18 real-life picture shows no notch, impressive screen-to-body ratio

* Son of White Sox coach excels in pro debut
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* 2018 AZL White Sox Preview
* 2018 AZL White Sox Preview
* White Sox's Danny Farquhar posts video of himself throwi...
* Junior Legion, White Sox split doubleheaders
* White Sox Minor Keys: June 19, 2018


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