Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2012 with $33.4 million in unallocated cash on hand — down from $167 million the year before — while adding to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show. Last week, Moody’s Investors ordered an unprecedented triple-drop in the city’s bond rating, citing Chicago’s “very large and growing” pension liabilities, “significant” debt service payments, “unrelenting public safety demands” and historic reluctance to raise local taxes that has continued under Emanuel.
Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the City of Chicago's (IL) general obligation (GO) and sales tax ratings to A3 from Aa3; water and sewer senior lien revenue ratings to A1 from Aa2; and water and sewer second lien revenue ratings to A2 from Aa3. Chicago has $7.7 billion of GO debt, $566 million of sales tax debt, $2.0 billion of water revenue debt, and $1.3 billion of sewer revenue debt outstanding. The outlook on all ratings is negative ...The downgrade of the GO rating reflects Chicago's very large and growing pension liabilities and accelerating budget pressures associated with those liabilities. The city's budgetary flexibility is already burdened by high fixed costs, including unrelenting public safety demands and significant debt service payments.
Chicago's public schools on Wednesday forecast a record $1 billion fiscal 2014 budget deficit despite layoffs of 1,000 teachers and the expected closing of 50 schools, prompting one credit agency to downgrade its debt rating. The nation's third-largest public school district blamed the mounting red ink on an expected sharp rise in annual pension payments for teachers, because the state of Illinois has failed to curb ballooning pension costs.
Obama's 2011 speech described a Detroit that can only be described as a myth wrapped in a wish inside a dream. "This is a city that's been to heck and back," Obama said. "And while there are still a lot of challenges here, I see a city that's coming back." Obama referenced "tough choices" made to bail out GM and Fiat-Chrysler and also hailed the birth of a new wave of high-tech employment. "We said American workers could manufacture the best products in the world. So we invested in high-tech manufacturing and we invested in clean energy," he said. "And right now, there's an advanced-battery industry taking root here in Michigan that barely existed before." The biggest factory in this supposed new trend, Massachusetts-based A123 Systems, had plans to employ 5,900 workers nationwide to build lithium-ion batteries. In Detroit, A123 Systems never employed more than 1,000. The Energy Department awarded A123 Systems a $249 million grant to boost production. It filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and was still receiving DOE largesse. A judge approved the bankruptcy in 2013. In other words, the Detroit-area advanced-battery industry Obama said "barely existed before" his 2011 speech now … barely exists.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography