For the first time in more than two decades, the state of Illinois has received a bond rating upgrade from Moody’s Investor Service, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker hailing the move as an endorsement of the state’s “strong and responsible fiscal management” in recent years.
In a press release, Pritzker’s office says that the upgrade is the first from Moody’s since June 1998, with the service citing “material improvements” in the state’s handling of its finances, coupled with “constrained use of federal aid” while still increasing pension payments and keeping the state’s bill backlog in check.
“I promised to restore fiscal stability to Illinois, and Moody’s ratings upgrade demonstrates that Illinois’ finances are heading in the right direction for the first time in two decades,” Pritzker said in a statement. “A ratings upgrade pays momentous dividends for taxpayers, and the people of Illinois deserve credit for their incredible resilience and determination.”
Moody’s upgraded Illinois’ rating on General Obligation bonds from Baa3 with a stable outlook to Baa2 with a stable outlook, according to the press release.
Moody’s had previously downgraded Illinois’ rating on General Obligation bonds on three different occasions, most recently knocking the rating down to Baa3 due to a budget impasse that took place under the administration of former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
According to the state, higher bond ratings mean that Illinois can borrow money at lower interest rates, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
Pritzker emphasized his administration’s commitment to balanced budgets, with the FY 2022 budget being the third consecutive balanced plan. The budget has funds to repay emergency Federal Reserve loans ahead of time, saving millions in interest payments, and repays funds that the state loaned to itself to improve cash flow.