Hartford Mayor Looking Forward After Bonds Downgraded to “Junk”

The fact that Standard and Poor's downgraded Connecticut's state capital credit rating to "junk" status, shouldn't come as a surprise, according to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

Other ratings agencies, Moody's and Fitch, made similar announcements in the past several months.

“Their decision is what we’ve been saying for the better part of a year," Bronin, a Democrat, told reporters during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

In the short term, the impact of the downgrade is that the city would have to pay higher interests for any borrowing, and would have trouble finding lenders because credit rating agencies have basically put future investors on notice, warning that Hartford is not a safe bet.

The city needs $50 million in the current fiscal year to have a balanced budget and that has become even more difficult since the city, like all municipalities, is so dependent on the state for aid.

City leaders are hopeful lawmakers can reach some kind of a budget solution soon.

City Council President TJ Clarke is looking to the State Capitol for guidance, saying he wants something to pass.

“If not a budget, a mini budget that can give Hartford the money that we need to be fiscally sound,” Clark said.

The downgrade does not affect existing borrowing or debt payments, so completed projects like Dunkin Donuts' Park will not get more expensive over the life of the bonds that were financed to pay for the minor league baseball stadium.

Mayor Bronin said the budget approved by the city council does not include more borrowing.

"We have too much debt already," he said.

Bronin said the city has made the necessary difficult choices to balance the budget, but he and the council might have gone as far as they can.

“There is a limit to how much you can cut before you’re not delivering on your obligations to your residents," Bronin said.

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