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After a brief, high profile debate, proposals to create a new bankruptcy framework for states dropped from sight in Washington in early 2011. With the debate’s initial passions having cooled, at least for a time, we can now consider state bankruptcy, as well as other responses to states’ fiscal crisis, a bit more quietly and carefully. In this Article, I begin by briefly outlining a theoretical and practical case for state bankruptcy. Because I have developed these arguments in much more detail in companion work, I will keep the discussion comparatively brief. My particular concern here is, as the title suggests, on developing a bankruptcy framework from the ground up. After briefly discussing what bankruptcy is, and some of the confusion befogging this term, I will argue that state bankruptcy should emphasize five key objectives, an approach I will compare to two possible alternatives. I then will consider six facets of the bankruptcy case: initiation; proposing a reorganization plan; the role of a stay, reachback provisions and confirmation rules; the possibility of “guillotines” or “checks” tailored to the state bankruptcy context; financing; and the structure of the bankruptcy court.


Framework for bankruptcy provisions for the states, reorganization, state government debt, bonds, markets, legislation