Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chicago Public Schools Bond Fire

We have recently brought the problems of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Board of Education budgeting, financing, and outstanding bonds to readers attention through three articles by Kristi Culpepper.

Since then the Illinois General Assembly fortunately failed to pass a property tax freeze, passed a delay program for Chicago pension funding payments (which has not yet been signed into law), and the City of Chicago has authorized the issuance of $1.1 billion in GO fixed rate bonds to be used to restructure short term outstanding debt  and pay other current obligations, including $75 million in back police pay.  The City of Chicago had earlier issued an over subscribed fixed rate bond issuance that allowed it to convert $918 million in variable rate bonds to fixed rate bonds.

The Chicago Board of Education is, with the help of a former banker as Board President, in far worse financial condition with variable rate debt which lacks the backing a credit facility, a need to terminate its swap payments by probably depleting its $174 million debt service stabilization fund, the CBOE is looking at a $350 million budgeting shortfall and the school system could be out of cash as early as this summer, and  the CBOE looking for a $200 million line of credit and $935 million to address its next year deficit.

Kristi Culpepper covers the CBOE bond risks is far more detail in this new article which you should read.  She does an outstanding analysis.

The legislation to delay pension funding is being held hostage to the Illinois budget impasse between the governor and the General Assembly with the State without a budget for over a month while the Governor insists on diminishing collective bargaining rights.  Meanwhile, the Chicago Public School System has pulled its one year contract offer demanding a multi-year contract and that teachers pay full pension costs with no School system contribution, which may precipitate another teacher's strike.

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