Chicago Park District pension revamp takes fund off road to insolvency

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202106081343SM______BNDBUYER_00000179-ec17-d1ac-a5fb-ef37eda90001_110.1

Excerpt:

The Chicago Park District pension funding overhaul approved by lawmakers moves the fund off a path to insolvency to a full funding target in 35 years, with bonding authority.

State lawmakers approved the statutory changes laid out in House Bill 0417 on Memorial Day before adjourning their spring session and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign it. It puts the district?s contributions on a ramp to an actuarially based payment, shifting from a formula based on a multiplier of employee contributions. The statutory multiplier formula is blamed for the city and state?s underfunded pension quagmires.

“There are number of things here that are really, really good,? Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, told fellow lawmakers during a recent Senate Pension Committee hearing. Martwick is a co-sponsor of the legislation and also heads the committee.

?This is a measure that puts the district on to a path to full funding over the course of 35 years,” he said. “It is responsible. There is no opposition to it. This is exactly more of what we should be doing.”

The district will ramp up to an actuarially based contribution beginning this year when 25% of the actuarially determined contribution is owed, then half in 2022, and three-quarters in 2023 before full funding is required in 2024. To help keep the fund from sliding backwards during the ramp period the district will deposit an upfront $40 million supplemental contribution.

The 35-year clock will start last December 31 to reach the 100% funded target by 2055.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 8 June 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Illinois looks to its own coffers to pay off MLF loan

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202105211243SM______BNDBUYER_00000179-8fa2-d80e-a97d-8fa3c5720001_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

Illinois will dip into its growing pot of tax revenues to pay off the remaining $2.175 billion of outstanding debt borrowed through the Federal Reserve?s Municipal Liquidity Facility to manage last year?s COVID-19 tax blows.

The Treasury Department?s interim guidance, released May 10, barring debt repayment as an eligible use of American Rescue Plan dollars threw a wrench ? at least temporarily ? into Chicago’s and Illinois? plans to pay down debt issued last year. Illinois borrowed through the MLF and Chicago issued notes ahead of a planned scoop-and-toss borrowing to stave off deep cuts and layoffs as tax revenues plummeted. Both planned to pay off the debt with ARP funds.

Both planned to lobby the Treasury Department for a guidance change during a 60-day comment period, but Illinois was under the gun to make repayment plans ahead of a May 31 deadline to pass a fiscal 2022 budget. The state is receiving $8.1 billion from the ARP.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 21 May 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Harvey, Illinois’ ARP relief dragged into pension fund conflict

Link: https://www.bondbuyer.com/news/harvey-illinois-arp-relief-dragged-into-pension-fund-conflict#new_tab

Excerpt:

A Harvey, Illinois, pension fund claims it’s entitled to share in the Chicago suburb’s American Rescue Plan funds and wants to block the distribution of aid until a judge decides.

The financially stressed suburb south of Chicago, which has battled over the last decade with its public safety pension funds, the city of Chicago, and bondholders about its obligations, settled a legal dispute with its police and firefighters’ over past due payments in 2018.

The Firefighters Pension Fund is now staking a claim on Harvey’s share of the $350 billion for local, state and tribal governments in the coronavirus relief package President Biden signed in March, arguing Harvey’s share is subject to the 10% claim on city tax funds that flow through the state and are sent directed to the fund the city agreed to in a 2018 settlement.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 14 May 2021

Publication Site: Bond Buyer

Federal cash infusion won’t erase Illinois’ chronic fiscal strains

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202104131450SM______BNDBUYER_00000178-cc00-d414-abf8-efa2047e0001_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

S&P Global Ratings warns of the pressures posed by the Illinois? burdensome pension tab even as it maintains scheduled contributions despite glaring structural woes cited in the recently published three-year budget forecast from the legislature?s non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

When applying fiscal 2022 proposed spending levels, the state?s roughly $5 billion bill backlog could jump to $9.9 billion, and $10.6 billion by the end of fiscal 2024, and a $1.2 billion fiscal 2022 deficit rises to $1.9 billion or $2.3 billion if spending grows by five- and 10-year historical rates of 2.7% or 3.2%, respectively.

The numbers look bleaker with the backlog skyrocketing to record levels of between $19.1 billion and $20.5 billion based on a fiscal 2021 spending base.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 13 April 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Illinois governor signs bill that increases Chicago’s pension liabilities

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202104061236SM______BNDBUYER_00000178-a783-de03-a7ff-b7e7bf7e0001_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that benefits retired Chicago firefighters, rejecting city warnings adding to its already burdensome pension tab could damage ratings and drive up taxes.

The added cost to bring cost-of-living adjustments for all firefighters in tier one up to a simple 3% annual increase despite their birth date amounts to $18 million to $30 million annually and up to $823 million in full by 2055 when the fund is slated to reach a 90% funded ratio.

Pending legislation to do the same for the police fund carries a steeper price tag of up to $90 million annually and $2.6 billion through 2055.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 6 April 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

No rating red flags stand out in Illinois’ proposed budget

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202102191505SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-bb7c-d32d-a5f7-bbfd87c10001_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

The prospects for new federal aid and a proposed budget that avoids negative rating triggers should preserve Illinois? investment-grade status, but neither moves the needle on the structural and pension albatrosses.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed $95.5 billion fiscal 2022 budget, with a $41.7 billion general fund, clears what was estimated late last year as a $5.5 billion gap, using higher revenue projections and a combination of structural and one-time maneuvers.

In addition to higher tax collections and federal Medicaid matching dollars now expected, the budget holds spending level to fiscal 2021. It raises about $900 million in revenue by curbing corporate tax breaks, keeps some funds earmarked for local governments, the capital fund, and transit agencies and delays repayment of some inter-fund borrowing. It does not rely on an income tax or other general tax increases and it does rely on more federal funds as they are not yet approved.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 19 February 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Chicago Public Schools’ yield penalties hit fresh low

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202101291341SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-4f21-d760-a9ff-4ffdc0490002_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

Investors on the hunt for yield with few pickings scooped up Chicago Public Schools? junk paper Wednesday driving down the district?s yield penalties paid in the primary market to their lowest in years.

The 10-year in the $560 million sale that marked the Chicago Board of Education?s first COVID-19 era sale settled at a yield of 1.94%, a 117 basis point spread to the Municipal Market Data?s AAA benchmark.

The BBB benchmark was at an 89 basis point spread Thursday. The new-money and refunding bonds carried one investment grade rating and two speculative grade ones and while high yield investors snapped up the paper, Alliance Bernstein?s high impact social fund shunned the transaction. The fund said the district has failed to provide sufficient evidence it?s protecting students from in-school sexual misconduct in the aftermath of a scandal that drew a rebuke from the U.S. Department of Education.

Author: Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 29 January 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Illinois sports agency’s new board chief inherits coronavirus-driven debt woes

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202101251510SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-3a79-d154-a1f7-7ef9935b0001_110.1

Excerpt:

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker tapped incumbent Illinois Sports Facilities Authority board member Leslie Darling to replace outgoing chairman Manuel ?Manny? Sanchez, putting her at the helm of the agency hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic?s deep wounds to hotel taxes, which are used to repay its debts.

The board governs the agency that owns and operates and issued $150 million of bonds in 1989 for Guaranteed Rate Field where Major League Baseball?s White Sox play and served as the issuer for $400 million of 2001 bonds that financed the renovation of the Chicago Park District-owned Soldier Field ? home of the National Football League?s Chicago Bears. About $430 million of debt is outstanding.

Author: Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 25 January 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Chicago Public Schools tees up first pandemic-era bond deal

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202101251653SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-3b58-d624-adf7-ff7a48da0001_110.1

Excerpt:

Chicago’s school district is heading into the market for its first COVID-19 era deal with a balance sheet shored up by federal relief.

The district is selling this week $560 million of tax-exempt, dedicated revenue-backed general obligation paper that carries two junk ratings and one at investment grade.

The deal offers $450 million of new money to finance capital work and $110 million of bonds that will refund 2006, 2009 and 2010 debt for savings with no extension of the original maturity. State aid is the pledged dedicated revenue on both pieces with other intergovernmental agreement-related revenue also pledged on the new money series.

Author: Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 25 January 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Original Publisher: Bond Buyer

Harvey, Illinois, faces renewed scrutiny of 2014 SEC consent agreement

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202101211503SM______BNDBUYER_00000177-2650-dd2a-a17f-f7d29f810001_110.1#new_tab

Excerpt:

A federal judge ordered Harvey, Illinois, to rehire a consultant and prove the status of management reforms the city agreed to in a 2014 consent judgment that settled charges the Chicago suburb fraudulently used bond proceeds.

After a series of communications over the last year about the status of the impoverished city’s compliance, the Securities and Exchange Commission dragged the city back to court in October.

Author: Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 21 January 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity

Original Publisher: Bond Buyer