Michigan’s $195 Million Payment to Detroit Pension Systems Approved


A board on Monday approved a $195 million payment that Michigan will make to Detroit’s pension system as part of the city’s plan to avoid steeper benefit cuts.

From the Lansing State Journal:

Detroit’s two pension funds are expected to receive the state’s “grand bargain” bankruptcy contribution of $194.8 million on Feb. 9 after a state panel gave final approval to the payments on Monday.

The three-member Michigan Settlement Administration Authority approved the payments after board members were advised all legal claims against the state related to the largest municipal bankruptcy in the nation’s history had been dismissed.

The authority — made up of Treasurer Kevin Clinton, Budget Director John Roberts, and Huntington Woods attorney William Cohen — is not expected to meet again. Its sole function was to oversee payment of the state’s contribution to a grand bargain that helped settle the bankruptcy. The Legislature approved the payments last May.

The state’s contribution is part of more than $800 million raised from foundations, private donors and the Detroit Institute of Arts to shore up city pension funds and protect a sell-off of the DIA’s collection of artwork during Detroit’s Chapter 9 proceedings, which ended this month.


The money will go into the investment funds of the two pension funds.

The state is financing the payments from a fund established from money it received through the settlement of a multi-state lawsuit against tobacco companies.

Detroit will reportedly receive the money on February 9.


Photo credit: “DavidStottsitsamongDetroittowers” by Mikerussell – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Detroit Pensioners Sue Actuarial Consulting Firm Over Allegedly Faulty Assumptions


Lawsuits are rolling in against Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company, an actuarial consulting firm enlisted by pension funds across the country for advice on return assumptions and other calculations.

The firm has worked with Detroit’s pension funds for decades. Now, pensioners from several of Detroit’s public pension systems are suing the firm for playing a part in bringing the systems to “financial ruin.”

From the New York Times:

Detroit has been a client of Gabriel Roeder since 1938, when the city first started offering pensions. Now the city is bankrupt, the pension fund is short, benefits are being cut and one of the system’s roughly 35,000 members, Coletta Estes, is suing the firm, contending it used faulty methods and assumptions that “doomed the plan to financial ruin.”

Gabriel Roeder’s job was to help Detroit’s pension trustees run a sound plan, she says, but instead the firm covered up a growing shortfall and encouraged the trustees to spend money they did not really have. Her complaint contends that the actuaries did this knowingly, “in concert with the plan trustees to further their self-interest.” The lawsuit seeks to have the pension plan made whole, in an amount to be determined at trial, and to have Gabriel Roeder enjoined “from perpetrating similar wrongs on others.”

Lawsuits like the one Ms. Estes filed have also been brought against Gabriel Roeder by members of Detroit’s pension fund for police and firefighters, and the fund for the employees of surrounding Wayne County.


Gabriel Roeder said the three lawsuits “are factually, legally and procedurally infirm and reflect a gross misunderstanding of the nature of actuarial services.”

In a written statement, the firm also said that it was still providing services to all three pension funds and would vigorously defend itself against the lawsuits “without further public comment.”

More details on the lawsuits, from the Times:

The three lawsuits are separate from Detroit’s bankruptcy case. They were filed in Wayne County Circuit Court by Gerard V. Mantese and John J. Conway, Michigan lawyers who have tangled with Detroit’s pension system before. The lawsuits focus on the calculations and analysis that Gabriel Roeder provided to the trustees. Like many city and state pension systems, those of Detroit and Wayne County are mature, complex institutions, governed by trustees who do not necessarily have sophisticated financial backgrounds and rely heavily on the meaningful advice and accurate calculations of their consultants.

Detroit’s trustees did not get that, Mr. Mantese and Mr. Conway contend. Even as the city slid faster and faster toward bankruptcy, its workers kept building up larger, costlier pensions, and the actuaries “assured the trustees that the plan was in good condition.”

“Gabriel Roeder recommended that the plan could maintain and increase benefits,” Ms. Estes contends in her complaint, which was filed in September. That might sound odd, coming from a plan member who stood to enjoy any increases. But Detroit was making promises it could not afford, and Ms. Estes is also a Detroit homeowner and taxpayer who argues she was harmed as the city kept piling more and more obligations onto its shrinking tax base.

As the residents of other struggling cities have discovered, public pension promises, once made, are extremely hard to break, even if the city goes bankrupt. Now Ms. Estes has lost not only part of her pension but much of the savings tied up in her house, while she and her neighbors overpay for paltry city services. She says she might have been spared some of the misery had Gabriel Roeder warned the trustees years ago that the pension system was unsustainable and recommended changes.

“We just got blindsided,” she said.

Detroit Announces Trustees For New Pension Investment Committees


One of the final pieces of Detroit’s bankruptcy plan is setting up committees responsible for reviewing investments made by the city’s two major pension funds: the Police and Fire Retirement System and the General Retirement System.

Detroit announced this week the trustees that will sit on those committees. From the Detroit Free Press:

The appointees reflect one of the final steps in reshaping how Detroit’s retiree health insurance benefits are delivered and how two independently controlled pension funds are operated.

The new governance structure for the pension funds and the reduced health benefits for retirees were part of a negotiated settlement to Detroit’s historic Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

Judge Steven Rhodes will rule in the first week of November on whether the city’s plan of adjustment is fair and feasible.

Here are the new appointees, according to a draft version of the city’s eighth amended plan of adjustment, which was filed with the Bankruptcy Court early this morning:

The initial independent members of the committees are:

– Police and Fire Retirement System investment committee: Mark Diaz, Sean Neary, Louis Sinagra, Mike Simon, Woodrow S. Tyler, McCullough Williams III, Robert C. Smith, Joseph Bogdahn and Rebecca Sorenson.

– General Retirement System investment committee: Kerrie VandenBosch, Doris Ewing, Robert Rietz, David Sowerby, Thomas Sheehan, June Nickleberry and Ken Whipple.

As of fiscal year 2012-13, the General Retirement System managed over $2 billion in assets and the Police and Fire Retirement System managed $3.4 billion in assets.

Detroit Retiree Committee Explains Decision to Support Pension Cuts

Detroit, Michigan

When Detroit initially announced its plans to cut back worker pensions earlier this year, the Detroit Retiree Committee took a hard line: the cuts were unconstitutional and the Committee wouldn’t support them.

But the Committee eventually backed down, and retirees easily approved the pension cuts at the ballot box.

What caused the Committee to reverse course? Today, during testimony at Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, we got a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes decision-making that led to the change in sentiment. From the Detroit Free Press:

“Part of the test of whether Detroit’s plan would be successful was whether Detroit could be able to revitalize itself,” [Committee member Ron] Bloom said. “Anything we put forward, we had to feel in good faith was consistent with Detroit being able to revitalize itself.

“The city was dysfunctional. We didn’t like what they had to say often, but we felt their commitment to revitalization was sincere.”


The Retiree Committee agreed to endorse the plan ahead of a July vote by retirees. Retirees and workers voted in support of the plan.

Early on, the committee “had a pretty vigorous disagreement with how we thought the case should go,” Bloom said, adding that the retirees were never treated like favored insiders among the city’s creditors.

But as realities of the case set in, and it became clear pension cuts could be worse if retirees rejected the plan, the committee decided to back the plan.

“We believe that we received enough,” Bloom testified.

The restructuring plan, eventually endorsed by the Committee and approved by retirees, eliminated COLA increases and cut pensions by 4.5 percent.


Photo Credit: Mikerussell – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Detroit Creditor Accuses “Agenda-Driven” Bankruptcy Mediators Of Favoring Pensioners


Another chapter has been written in the bitter fight between Detroit and one of its largest creditors, Syncora. The bond insurer has the city’s bankruptcy mediators of blatantly favoring pensioners while pushing most of the pain of the bankruptcy onto the city’s creditors.

Syncora said in a court filing today that Detroit’s grand bargain deal was “the product of agenda-driven, conflicted mediators who colluded with certain interested parties to benefit select favored creditors to the gross detriment of disfavored creditors and, remarkably, the City itself.”

Syncora feel they are being treated unfairly in Detroit’s bankruptcy. As part of the grand bargain, public pensioners had to accept significant cuts to their benefits. But the cuts weren’t as significant as they could have been.

But much steeper cuts are being enforced elsewhere, including on Detroit’s bondholders, of which Syncora is one.

In addition to being a bondholder, Syncora insures hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pension obligation certificates of participation (COPs) issued by Detroit. Those instruments became worthless when the city declared bankruptcy.

As part of the city’s bankruptcy proceedings, Syncora stands to lose between 90 percent and 100 percent of its investment—all told, around $250 million, including the money they’ll have to pay to clients for whom Syncora had guaranteed payment from Detroit bonds. More from the Detroit Free-Press:

Bond insurer Syncora — which could lose hundreds of millions in the bankruptcy — argued that Judge Steven Rhodes must reject the city’s sweeping restructuring plan because of the “naked favoritism” of lead bankruptcy mediator Gerald Rosen and mediator Eugene Driker.

The accusations thrust the mediators into the middle of a fight between the city and Syncora that has become so bitter that Rhodes ordered the city to stop using war analogies to describe the insurer’s actions.

Rosen and Driker negotiated terms of the grand bargain, which allows the city to reduce pension cuts and transfers the DIA to a charitable trust. They helped solicit donations from nonprofit foundations, which pledged $366 million over 20 years, and convinced the DIA to contribute $100 million over 20 years from its own donors. The state of Michigan then agreed to contribute $195 million in upfront cash to the deal, which must be approved by Rhodes.

In its filing, Syncora cited several public statements by Rosen, including his statement at a press conference that the grand bargain is “about Detroit’s retirees who have given decades and decades of their lives devoted to Detroit.”

Syncora argued that Driker should have disqualified himself from mediating the grand bargain since his wife is a former member of the DIA’s board of directors.

Rosen and Driker did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

For a breakdown of Detroit’s plans to repay various creditors, see Pension360’s coverage here.

After Massive Investment Losses, Michigan Pension Funds Benefit From Settlements with AIG, Private Equity Firms


AIG revealed in an SEC filing this week that it plans to pay out a massive sum of money to settle an ongoing lawsuit claiming the firm misled investors on the quality of certain investments prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

The total settlement: $970.5 million. And certain pension funds in Michigan will likely see a chunk of that change. That’s because they lost a significant chunk of change when they bought investment vehicles from AIG prior to 2008.

The State of Michigan Retirement Systems says it lost between $110 million and $140 million due to AIG.

Detroit’s General Retirement System as well as the Saginaw Police and Fire Pension Board say they lost millions more, as well.

All told, those funds could receive a combined payout totaling eight figures. From Crain’s:

This week, AIG disclosed to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission it would pay $960 million under a mediation proposal to settle the consolidated litigation, on behalf of investors from that period.


The lawsuit alleges AIG executives gave false and misleading information about its financial performance and exposure to residential mortgage backed securities in the run-up to the financial market collapse.

The $54.8 billion Michigan systems — a group of plans administered by the state Office of Retirement Services for former police officers, judges and other state and public school employees — became lead plaintiff for the class in March 2009, after informing the court of its nine-figure losses.

The federal Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 says a court should presume a plaintiff is fit to lead class actions like this one if it “has the largest financial interest in the relief sought by the class.” In fact, it had about double the losses of any other plaintiff seeking the same lead role — so its piece of the nearly billion-dollar pie may be larger than most.

The bolded is important, because it means that the State of Michigan Retirement Systems will almost certainly be receiving the highest payout of any of the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, another Michigan fund—the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit—was the beneficiary of another settlement today.

Three private equity firms settled a seven-year-long lawsuit today that alleged the firms colluded and fixed prices in leveraged buyout deals. The firms—Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Blackstone, and TPG—settled for $325 million.

Among the suit’s plaintiffs were public pension funds that held shares in the companies that were bought out by the firms at “artificially suppressed prices, depriving shareholders of a true and fair market value.” From DealBook:

The lawsuit, originally filed in late 2007, took aim at some of the biggest leveraged buyouts in history, portraying the private equity firms as unofficial partners in an illegal conspiracy to reduce competition.

As they collaborated on headline-grabbing deals — including the buyouts of the technology giant Freescale Semiconductor, the hospital operator HCA and the Texas utility TXU — the private equity titans developed a cozy relationship with one another, the lawsuit contended. Citing emails, the lawsuit argued that these firms would agree not to bid on certain deals as part of an informal “quid pro quo” understanding.

In September 2006, for example, when Blackstone and other firms agreed to buy Freescale for $17.6 billion, K.K.R. was circling the company as well. But Hamilton E. James, the president of Blackstone, sent a note to his colleagues about Henry R. Kravis, a co-founder of K.K.R., according to the lawsuit. “Henry Kravis just called to say congratulations and that they were standing down because he had told me before they would not jump a signed deal of ours,” Mr. James wrote.

Days later, according to the lawsuit, Mr. James wrote to George R. Roberts, another K.K.R. co-founder, using an acronym for a “public to private” transaction. “We would much rather work with you guys than against you,” Mr. James said. “Together we can be unstoppable but in opposition we can cost each other a lot of money. I hope to be in a position to call you with a large exclusive P.T.P. in the next week or 10 days.” Mr. Roberts responded, “Agreed.”

The settlement now awaits approval from the Federal District Court in Massachusetts.

Oral Arguments by Pension Funds and Unions Pushed Back in Detroit Bankruptcy Hearing


When Detroit first raised the issue of cutting pension benefits for the city’s workers, unions and pension funds balked at the idea.

So when a Detroit bankruptcy court ruled that the city could indeed cut pension benefits as part of bankruptcy proceedings, several parties immediately filed appeals, including two public employee unions and one pension fund. They wanted their day in court; a chance to stand in front of a judge and make their arguments face-to-face.

That day was supposed to be Wednesday. But there will be no appeals heard that day, as the Appeals Court in question has postponed the oral arguments that were previously scheduled to be given by the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, Detroit Police Officers Association, the city’s two pension funds and the Retired Detroit Police Members Association.

The groups were going to argue that Detroit is ineligible for bankruptcy because Michigan law does not allow a city to file for bankruptcy. From Detroit News:

A federal appeals court Tuesday canceled oral arguments for two public safety unions, a retiree group and the city’s pension funds, which were trying to overturn the city’s eligibility for bankruptcy and its ability to slash pensions.

The cancellation comes one day before the groups were scheduled to deliver arguments in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, and following a request to delay the hearing by a city bankruptcy lawyer, who cited ongoing negotiations. The groups impacted by the cancellation are the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, Detroit Police Officers Association, the city’s two pension funds and the Retired Detroit Police Members Association.

Oral argument was set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and posed one last legal obstacle that could derail an Aug. 14 trial to determine whether Detroit can shed $7 billion in debt and emerge from the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Legal experts, however, believe appeals from pension funds, unions and retiree groups will fail and the bankruptcy case will continue to trial next month.

Robert Gordon, a lead attorney for Detroit’s retirement systems, said the appellate court’s clerk’s office called attorneys involved late Monday and informed them of the cancellation.

A spokeswoman for the Retired Detroit Police Members Association confirmed Tuesday morning the group had struck a deal with the city late Monday night to avoid Wednesday’s planned hearing. That group has argued Michigan’s emergency manager law is unconstitutional because of its similarities to a previous law voters repealed in November 2012.

Detroit has settled with most of its creditors as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. But there has been one notable holdout: Syncora Guarantee Inc, which is facing millions of dollars in potential losses due to the drastic decline in value of the Detroit bonds the corporation holds.

Photo: “DavidStottsitsamongDetroittowers” by Mikerussell – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons

Detroit Deal Leaves Pension Protection in Legal Limbo


Municipal bankruptcies are increasingly becoming a reality in the United States, and it’s changing what we know about how—and to what extent—state laws protect pension benefits.

Detroit made big waves this week when its citizens voted to cut their own pensions. But if they had not approved the ballot measure, the city would have tried to cut their benefits by even greater margins. The fact that this took place in a state with stringent legal protections for pension benefits is making observers elsewhere wonder if a new precedent has been set. From NPR:

Pension benefits already earned have always been sacrosanct, protected by federal law and, often, state constitutions. Retirees could rest easy, knowing their money couldn’t be touched.

The in Detroit by retired city workers to cut their own benefits by 4.5 percent calls all that into question.

“Detroit has raised it as a possibility,” says Daniel DiSalvo, a political scientist at City College of New York who studies public sector labor issues. “I don’t think that most people, maybe with the exception of some unions, think pensions are inviolable.”

With several other cases pending, it’s not at all clear whether federal bankruptcy law trumps traditional pension protections. Pensions continue to have strong legal protection, and there’s not going to be any great rush among states and cities to test whether cutting benefits for current retirees is something that will necessarily fly with the courts.

But the vote in Detroit does suggest that at least some pensioners might have to give up more than they ever expected.

And it won’t be too long until the possibility of more pension cuts are raised elsewhere in Michigan. Flint is considering filing for bankruptcy, as well. From Money News:

Flint, the birthplace of General Motors that once had 200,000 residents, has also endured a spectacular drop in population and factory jobs and a corresponding rise in property abandonment, much like its insolvent big brother an hour’s drive south.

If a judge rules against Flint’s effort to cut its retiree health care benefits, the city is expected to join about a dozen cities or counties that have sought help from the courts since the start of the recession.

“If we don’t get any relief in the courts … we are headed over the same cliff as Detroit,” said Darnell Earley, the emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to manage Flint’s finances. “We can’t even sustain the budget we have if we have to put more money into health care” for city workers.

And, if Flint follows a similar path to Detroit after declaring bankruptcy, it could mean pension benefits are the first thing on the chopping block.

This will all become a bit clearer when Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes makes his ruling on the city’s restructuring plan. That won’t come until sometime in September.

Detroit’s Pension-Slashing Plan Passed, But Creditors Remain the City’s Biggest Obstacle


When Detroit bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes considers whether to approve the city’s sweeping debt-cutting plan, he will take into strong consideration what the city’s voters had to say. He’ll see that Detroit’s pension holders overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure today which cut pension benefits and cost-of-living-adjustments, among other things.

But he’ll also see the discontent coming from another group receiving much less media attention: Detroit’s creditors. Those include banks, hedge funds, individual investors and average Detroit citizens who hold the city’s bonds, which have become worthless. Some of these bondholders are going to be paid back in full, but others won’t; Detroit is offering as little as 10 cents on the dollar to investors who own certain bond classes.

Needless to say, the owners of those bonds aren’t happy. And they expressed that discontent by voting “no” on the ballot measure that passed today. Still, Judge Rhodes will consider their opinions when ruling whether Detroit’s restructuring plan is legal.

There are twelve classes of bonds, and the Detroit Free Press has a fantastic breakdown of how those classes voted and their unique situations. You can read the whole thing here, but here are some of the more interesting ones:

Class 1: Water and sewer bondholders

Who owns or controls this debt? Major bond insurers, individuals and financial giants such as Black Rock

What they’re owed: $5.8 billion

The city’s offer: 100%

Back story: This debt is secured, which means it’s protected from cuts. Nonetheless, mediation talks between the city and the bondholders have tarried without a settlement. Why? Because the city is trying to replace the bonds without paying all future interest.

How they voted: 119 sub-classes of bondholders voted no, while 32 voted yes.

Classes 2-4, 6: Secured general obligation bonds, other secured claims, U.S. Housing and Urban Development loans, parking bonds

Who owns or controls this debt? A variety of investors (Classes 2-3, 6); Uncle Sam (Class 4)

What they’re owed: $494 million (Classes 2-3); $90 million (Class 4); $8 million (Class 6)

The city’s offer: 100%

Back story: This debt has rock-solid legal standing and the city can’t get out of it.

How they voted: These creditors don’t vote because they are receiving full payment.

Class 7: Limited-tax general obligation bonds

Who owns or controls this debt? Ambac Assurance and Black Rock control most of it, with Syncora holding a smaller amount.

What they’re owed: $164 million

The city’s offer: 34%

Back story: Black Rock and Ambac agreed to a tentative settlement, but all of the terms have not been released.

How they voted: Bondholders representing 99.8% of the claims and the votes rejected the plan — likely because the settlement has not been finalized.

Class 8: Unlimited-tax general obligation bonds

Who owns or controls this debt? The lion’s share is controlled by bond insurers Assured, Ambac and National Public Finance Guarantee.

What they’re owed: $388 million

The city’s offer: 74%

Back story: The bond insurers agreed to a deal to allow the city to divert 26% of their debt to low-income retirees who face pension cuts. But this deal will face legal challenges during the trial.

How they voted: 87% of bondholders representing 97% of the debt voted “yes” to approve the deal.

Class 9: Pension obligation certificates of participation (COPs)

Who owns or controls this debt? Syncora and FGIC insured the debt, which is mostly owned by European banks and five major hedge funds that recently acquired about half of it

What they’re owed: $1.473 billion

The city’s offer: 0% to 10%

Back story: The fiercest fight in the bankruptcy is here. Syncora and FGIC argue they are being unfairly treated and have pushed for the City of Detroit to consider selling Detroit Institute of Arts treasures to pay their debts. The hedge funds have also objected to the city’s proposal.

How they voted: It was an emphatic “no,” with not a single “yes” vote.

Class 10: Police and Fire Retirement System pensions

Who owns or controls this debt? Police and fire retirees and active uniform employees who are vested in their pensions

What they’re owed: $1.25 billion in unfunded future pension promises

The city’s offer: 100% payment of their monthly pension checks and a reduction in annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increases from 2.25% to 1%.

Back story: The U.S. government-appointed Official Committee of Retirees, a major retiree association and the pension board representing the police and fire retirees reached a deal with the city to recommend a “yes” vote. With a “yes” vote by Classes 10 and 11, the city would agree to transfer the DIA to an independent charitable trust in exchange for foundation, state and DIA donations directed toward pensions.

How they voted: 82% of police and fire pensioners representing 82% of the debt voted “yes” to support the deal.

Class 14: Other unsecured claims

Who owns or controls this debt? A variety of creditors, including people who sued the city and won settlements, as well as city vendors that had contracts canceled

What they’re owed: An estimated $150 million

The city’s offer: 10% to 13%

Where they stand: This group of creditors is not well coordinated, but it includes a major Macomb County water claim expected to vote no.

How they voted: This class voted no by a 53-47% margin in number and by a 61-39% margin in total claims.

There are two ways this could play out:

1) Detroit reaches a settlement with creditors, likely paying them around 10 cents on the dollar for many of their bonds.

And, if a settlement can’t be reached:

2) Judge Rhodes will determine whether to force the creditors to accept cuts.

The trial starts next month, but likely won’t be finished until September.

Detroit Voters Pass Pension Cuts By A Landslide

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The long-awaited news has finally come: Detroit’s pension holders have approved a ballot measure that cuts their pension benefits as part of the city’s bankruptcy plan. There was much speculation about whether the measure would pass. In the end, though, it wasn’t even close. The Wall Street Journal had the final tally:

The official count, filed late Monday night, showed 82% of those eligible for a police or fire pension who voted supported the plan. Roughly 73% of other retirees and employees with pension benefits who voted favored the plan. Voting lasted through early July.
The voting margins from pension holders were seen as an endorsement for the city’s plan to confront an estimated $18 billion in long-term obligations.
“The voting shows strong support for the City’s plan to adjust its debts and for the investment necessary to provide essential services and put Detroit on secure financial footing,” Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said.
Despite the critical nature of the vote, a sizable chunk of those eligible sat out. About 59% of police and firefighter pension holders and 42% of other pension holders cast ballots, according to the city’s legal filing.

Need a recap of what exactly the “yes” vote means? Here’s an explanation from Click On Detroit:

General retirees would get a 4.5 percent pension cut and lose annual inflation adjustments. Retired police officers and firefighters would lose a portion of their annual cost-of-living raise.
Ballot approval of the pension changes triggers an extraordinary $816 million bailout from the state of Michigan, foundations and the Detroit Institute of Arts. The money would prevent the sale of city-owned art and avoid deeper pension cuts. The judge, however, still must agree.

That last line is key: the city’s bankruptcy judge still has to OK the plan. But it was always assumed that if voters passed it, the judge would too.

To read the official declaration released by the bankruptcy court, click here.

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