Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin is telling state elected officials that, absent a state budget, the city will run out of money in 60 days and will likely file for bankruptcy.
“Under the existing executive order, which is directing state spending in the absence of a budget, we do not see a clear path to meeting our financial obligations in the month of November -- approximately 60 days,” Bronin said to reporters Thursday.
The mayor added that the city can’t cut any further, tax any higher, lay anyone else off, or spend any more from its rainy day fund. And as he sees it, the state has three choices: Ignore the problem and cause a bankruptcy; give a short-term Band Aid fix; or fix it for good.
Bronin said the last could entail compensating the city for its untaxable property, changing mechanisms around labor negotiations, and putting pressure on bondholders.
“We’re asking the state to work with us to achieve a truly sustainable long-term, comprehensive solution,” the mayor said. “We’re not interested in patches. We’re not interested in short-term bailouts.”
A spokesperson for Gov. Dannel Malloy said the governor agrees with the city’s assessment, recognizes the difficult situation municipalities are in, and hopes for a budget by October.
“We could not agree more with the urgency of the situation, particularly for the City of Hartford,” she said. “With rising fixed costs, eroding revenues, and limited powers, executive authority does not provide flexibility for allotting funds in the absence of a budget passed by the General Assembly.”
Matt Ritter is the Democratic House Majority Leader and represents Hartford. State lawmakers are well aware of the problems that are weighing on cities like Hartford -- and there’s a solution in the works, he said.
“We have an agreement amongst all parties that we have come up with a pretty fair approach to how we would deal with this,” Ritter said. “Not just a Band Aid, but how do we make this a sustainable, long-term path to financial solvency for the City of Hartford?”
Ritter said that will include limiting city borrowing, overseeing its budget, and spelling out just how much state revenue the capital city should count on each year. But none of that will happen if the state doesn’t pass a budget.
Lawmakers are scheduled to start voting next week.