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Bridgeport Officials: Don’t Screw State’s Largest City When Bailing Out Hartford

September 15th, 2017 · 20 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, News and Events, State Politics

state house huddles

State House members left to right Chris Rosario, Andre Baker, Ezequiel Santiago, Charlie Stallworth, Steve Stafstrom, Jack Hennessy huddle in Hartford on Thursday.

In an excruciatingly tight–and tardy–state budget season with municipalities across the state facing major cuts, the financially hemorrhaging city of Hartford is poised for a major bailout with oversight strings attached to overt bankruptcy as well as $115 in capital funding over two years for the XL Center. Mayor Joe Ganim and the city’s legislative delegation are weighing in, what about the state’s largest city? It’s one of the machinations impacting passage of a budget in a state operating without one for more than two months.

Almost every municipality will be forced to take a bite out of a shit sandwich of a budget except Hartford. Members of Bridgeport’s delegation say if that’s the case make it more tolerable because the city stands to lose more money than what was originally presented in the spending plan submitted by Governor Dan Malloy early this year.

Ganim delegation huddle

Mayor Joe Ganim, right against door, with Bridgeport delegation on Thursday.

Budget talks broke down around midnight last night in an effort to pass a budget. Democrats hold a slim majority in the House. The Senate is 18-18 with Democratic Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman poised to break a tie on the budget, if necessary. Any partisan defections could doom the budget. The mayor and legislative delegation are trying to leverage something better in view of the state rescuing the capital city. The city’s delegation alone is not blowing up the state budget, but it’s part of the serpentine variables of maneuvering a budget to passage.

With votes currently lacking in the House it appears budget negotiations have shifted to the Senate where Bridgeport’s two state senators Marilyn Moore and Ed Gomes will try to carry the city’s negotiating load well into the night and possibly early morning.

The Hartford Courant reports the budget bill includes “funds to support Hartford — between $40 million and $45 million, according to sources — in order to prevent the state’s capital city from seeking bankruptcy. The funds would come with strings attached, including the state seeking some type of oversight of Hartford’s finances.”

Back in 1988 a fiscally bleeding Bridgeport sought state support to close years of red ink. In lieu of additional direct state aid, the state allowed the city to leverage its bonding powers to borrow $55 million to pay off debt and create a reserve. In exchange the state enacted tough medicine, an oversight board to make sure the city’s budgets were in balance. The Bridgeport Financial Review Board dissolved in the summer of 1995.

The Hartford rescue mission, however, appears to involve direct state aid with the strings of an oversight board.

Bridgeport elected officials say it’s fine that Hartford must be rescued but don’t screw the state’s largest city in the process.

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20 Comments so far ↓

  • Bob Walsh

    I’m all for it. As long as a Financial Review Board is for Bridgeport too.
    See if Joe goes for that!

  • Phil Blagys

    I agree. Get the cash for Bridgeport and the review board. Win win.

    • Frank Gyure

      So..what will the review board do? Reduce the city mill rate down to 30 mills?The last time we had a review board,the review board wanted to RAISE property taxes in Bridgeport. The Ganim Administration already did that.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Yeah. The people of the city of Bridgeport have been screwed by our own elected officials. No need for the legislature to heap it on.

  • Ron Mackey

    OH WOW, it states above,”The Hartford rescue mission, however, appears to involve direct state aid with the strings of an oversight board.”

    “Bridgeport elected officials say it’s fine that Hartford must be rescued but don’t screw the state’s largest city in the process.” This GREAT NEWS for Bridgeport.

  • Jimfox

    Bridgeport is on the road to prosperity with a major surplus, redevelopment project coming out of are Ass, that’s what Mayor Ganim would want you to believe!
    While this Mayor runs around this budget-less State, seeking higher office, telling everyone and anyone who will listen, how he pulled Bridgeport out of near bankruptcy again, for the second time.
    Ganim will tell you he holds the key to prosperity for your town too!
    He’ll have you sucking canal water and telling you it’s Château Lafite Rothschild.
    Only ask the suffering taxpayers of Bridgeport!
    Ganim can’t cry poor one day then bloviate the next.
    The cobbler’s children still have no shoes.

  • Frank Gyure

    Both Hartford and Bridgeport..and Waterbury..and possibly even other cities/urban areas needs to declare bankruptcy. Connecticut needs a major earthquake instead of the constant band-aids.Connecticut is one of the “richest” states yet we are in these repeated budget crises. Something is wrong and backwards. The hoi-polloi constantly scream about Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens.” In Connecticut,corporations and wealthy suburbs are the welfare queens. Can ANYONE explain or support education aid etc to Greenwich,Darien,Westport,Fairfield and all the other suburbs. Litchfield County is dripping with dollars. GE did not go to some cheap low tax state like Florida and Texas(BTW,Florida and Texas need to raise their own state taxes to pay for the hurricane damages.GE went to Tax-achusetts. Ct needs to open up and offer Free Associate Degrees at State Community Colleges. The problem in CT is the brain-drain.Why should the rest of the country pay for FL/TX damages and subsidize low taxes in FL/TX?

    • Jennifer Buchanan

      I’m a bit confused by your post Frank. On the one had, you appear to want Westport, Greenwich and other wealthy towns in CT to pay taxes to the state, you don’t seem to understand why they receive any of it back to their communities. Because Bridgeport, Hartford etc needs it more. On the other hand, you don’t want any of the wealthy states or citizens to help pay for extreme hurricane damage in Texas and Florida, they can pay for it themselves, because I think you imply their states don’t collect enough taxes. And yet, you criticize the constant budget crisis in CT. Your state is both one of the highest taxed states in America, and has one of the biggest debt obligations in America. And you seem to think taxing wealthy CT communities more will solve this? Here is the congressional definition of FEMA and how our legislators believe America works best as a nation. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) mission is to support the citizens and first responders to promote that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. I’m reading your post as, the wealthy in CT need to pay taxes, expect nothing in return and let cities, extremely poorly managed cities like Bridgeport, take their tax dollars. Even with bankruptcy, other cities tax dollars will still have to bail out those cities.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Let Hartford declare bankruptcy. They are now the open sore exposing the underlying economic aids of this regressive state. To bail-out Hartford is to allow the underlying socioeconomic rot of the whole state to progress beyond any hope of repair… If Bridgeport would have been allowed to go into bankruptcy a generation ago, it would have exposed the regressive state-/regional level politics that have replaced a bedrock, state economic foundation with the quicksand of a state with no county-level oversight of development policy that has allowed the development of 169 competing municipalities — the majority of which are sustained by purloined tax-base from adjacent urban centers, even as they use social services and essential infrastructure free of charge and exacerbate the problem through expansion of their populations and infrastructure/social service requirements on the backs of increasing stressed — and resultant overstressed/dysfunctional cities… This latter situation — dysfunctional, overstressed, unlivable cities — is what is driving away our major corporations… GE left because it didn’t want to be near a Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, or Waterbury — or even a traffic-strangled, increasingly dysfunctional Stamford…

    Bridgeport delegation — et al. — don’t prolong and exacerbate Connecticut’s socioeconomic, foundational rot by allowing a Hartford bailout to create a golden veneer over our deep, ugly socioeconomic rot… It will only serve to hurt all of the states cities and even the suburbs in the long run… We must recognize and remove our socioeconomic cancer/rot by making drastic political/policy changes by way of the return of county government… Only the basket-case states of Connecticut and Rhode Island don’t have county government…

    Vote NO! to the new budget and Hartford bailout and plan on a longer session where facts are faced and addressed on a pragmatic, realistic level…

  • Jeff Kohut

    Let Hartford declare bankruptcy. They are now the open sore exposing the underlying economic aids of this regressive state. To bail-out Hartford is to allow the underlying socioeconomic rot of the whole state to progress beyond any hope of repair… If Bridgeport would have been allowed to go into bankruptcy a generation ago, it would have exposed the regressive state-/regional level politics that have replaced a bedrock, state economic foundation with the quicksand of a state with no county-level oversight of development policy that has allowed the development of 169 competing municipalities — the majority of which are sustained by purloined tax-base from adjacent urban centers, even as they use social services and essential infrastructure free of charge and exacerbate the problem through expansion of their populations and infrastructure/social service requirements on the backs of increasing stressed — and resultant overstressed/dysfunctional cities… This latter situation — dysfunctional, overstressed, unlivable cities — is what is driving away our major corporations… GE left because it didn’t want to be near a Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, or Waterbury — or even a traffic-strangled, increasingly dysfunctional Stamford…

    Bridgeport delegation — et al. — don’t prolong and exacerbate Connecticut’s socioeconomic, foundational rot by allowing a Hartford bailout to create a golden veneer over our deep, ugly socioeconomic rot… It will only serve to hurt all of the states cities and even the suburbs in the long run… We must recognize and remove our socioeconomic cancer/rot by making drastic political/policy changes by way of the return of county government… Only the basket-case states of Connecticut and Rhode Island don’t have county government…

    Vote NO! to the new budget and Hartford bailout and plan on a longer session where facts are faced and addressed on a pragmatic, realistic level…

  • Frank Gyure

    Whatever happened to the Moukawsher decisio. Unfair and unconstitutional(state) funding of state schools. Moukawsher was a fool to throw that back into state government. Connecticut =Two States..One Rich and One Poor. Economic Jim Crow in Connecticut.

  • John Marshall Lee

    The State’s largest City said again and again by City leaders,what does it mean to anybody? We are not the largest business community in the State are we? Does anyone come into the City to shop retail? Do we have the largest group of taxpayers? Or are our percentages of registered voters who cast a ballot higher than other communities?

    So we have a lot of people who have needs and we must look outside the City for assistance? Is that a news flash? Is our governance structure larger or smaller than other large cities in the State? How about the citizen structure, boards, commissions and study groups, do we appoint, train and evaluate so that good oversight is stimulated, fresh ideas surface, and the City is looked to for “best practices”? Do we even have any aims in that direction? Time will tell.

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