William & Mary Law Review


Samir D. Parikh


Municipalities have historically enjoyed immense stability. This era of tranquility is over, and fiscal deterioration is accelerating. Policymakers and scholars have struggled to formulate debt restructuring options; almost all have embraced federal bankruptcy law. But this resource-draining process is not the fulcrum point for any meaningful solution to municipal demise. Indeed, for the vast majority of distressed municipalities, the lever of municipal recovery will not turn on the solutions that have been offered to date. This Article radically shifts the municipal recovery debate by arguing that state law is the centralized point at which officials can exert the necessary amount of pressure to gain concessions from key creditor constituencies. To that end, I propose a comprehensive fiscal monitoring system that identifies and then directs distressed municipalities into a dynamic negotiation model designed to restructure inveterate debt obligations. Animating this proposal is a more nuanced understanding of the Contracts Clause that allows a municipality to explore unilateral contract modification in an effort to facilitate consensual agreements with creditor constituencies.