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S&P bumps up outlook on Illinois' debt For the second time in recent months, the state gets some good financial news.

Crain's Chicago Business

Friday, November 19, 2021  |  Article  |  Greg Hinz

Bonds, Bonding, Borrowing, Debt, Credit Rating

The state received a bit more good news from Wall Street today as S&P Global Ratings bumped up its outlook on Illinois general obligation debt from neutral to positive.

S&P left the core rating unchanged at BBB, which is considered lower grade investment quality.n a statement, S&P said the state still faces high pension and unemployment fund costs, but has enjoyed “stronger than forecast tax revenues” and a “dissipation of the political gridlock that stymied governance” during the tenure of former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

S&P did not mention an influx of billions of dollars in federal COVID relief funds, but that likely was a factor, too.

The positive outlook “means there is at least a one-in-three chance that we could raise the rating within the two-year outlook period,” S&P said.

Fitch Ratings now has bumped up its Illinois outlook, too. Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office in is gloating, attributing the action to his "steadfast commitment to fiscal responsibility. . . .Gov. Pritzker remains focused on enacting on time balanced budgets, reducing debt and ensuring state government works efficiently for the people of Illinois."

S&P’s change of outlook also applies to debt of the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, which operates McCormick Place and is heavily dependent on state financing.

Earlier this year another firm, Moody’s, raised its rating on state debt, the first hike by any firm in more than two decades.