Hartford debt deal signed, Republicans threaten to cut aid to city

HARTFORD — Connecticut Republican leaders are upset with the recent bailout agreement the City of Hartford has made with the state.

Last week, the city of Hartford reached an agreement to have the state of Connecticut pay off the city’s approximately $550 million in general obligation debt.

The deal calls for the state to pick up Hartford’s annual debt payments, but the city would be responsible for about $5 million a year in payments on its new minor league ballpark.

On Wednesday, Senate Republican Len Fasano and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides issued a letter to Secretary Barnes and Treasurer Nappier urging them not to approve the deal.

Not long after the letter was sent, Nappier announced she had, in fact, signed the agreement.

Fasano and Klarides writing:

“We believe the Contract violates the spirit of the historic bipartisan budget that was adopted this past fall,” said Fasano and Klarides in the letter. “The agreement between the legislative leaders and the understanding of the legislators voted for the budget was to provide Hartford two years of additional financial assistance with the goal of helping our capital city get back on its feet. Lawmakers did not vote to pay off more than $500 million in Hartford’s debt over a period of 20 years.”

At the end of the three page letter, Fasano and Klarides included a chart of possible funding cuts.

The two finished the letter saying “When the city’s outstanding general obligation is restructured please forward the debt service payments to legislative leaders so that we can appropriately adjust the previous table.

You can read the full letter here.

Nappier, in a statement, said:

“This plan, consistent with the State’s bipartisan budget adopted last fall, will help our Capital City gain a path toward fiscal sustainability while giving the State strong oversight capabilities to protect its investment.”

You can read Nappier’s full statement here.

FOX61 attempted to speak to Klarides and Fasano on camera, but we were told neither were available. FOX61 also reached out to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin’s office, which sent the following statement:

“Last fall, I was fully prepared to seek authority to file bankruptcy, and legislators of both parties chose instead to build a new long-term partnership with the Capital City,” said Mayor Bronin. “The state’s assistance came only after we made deep cuts, negotiated dramatic labor concessions, partnered with our biggest companies, and subjected the city of Hartford to intense and ongoing oversight.

If Republican leaders regret the long-term partnership they embraced last fall, they should have the courage to call for our Capital City to file bankruptcy, because that’s the only responsible long-term alternative to the partnership they supported last fall.”

The city of Hartford had threatened to file for bankruptcy before agreeing to the bailout.