With S&P bump, Illinois now upgraded by all three ratings agencies
S&P Global Ratings on Friday upgraded its Illinois bond rating — with the state now boasting upgrades from all three Wall Street credit rating agencies.
S&P Global upgraded the state’s rating on its general obligation bonds to BBB+ from BBB. The agency also upgraded Build Illinois sales tax bonds to A- from BBB+. The upgrade comes a day after Fitch Ratings upgraded its Illinois bond rating two notches, the fifth upgrade credit agencies have given the state in less than a year. Illinois also received an upgrade from Moody’s Investor Service last month, the second such upgrade by Moody’s in 10 months.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is running for reelection, has run at least one TV ad touting his work at reshaping the state’s fiscal climate after a rough four years under former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“These achievements bear repeating: balanced budgets four years in a row, paying the state’s bills on time, early repayment of pandemic-related borrowing, clearing out debts left by previous administrations, making higher-than-required pension payments, setting aside $1 billion in savings for a rainy day. After more than 20 years without receiving a credit upgrade, the rating agencies are taking notice of our tremendous progress,” Pritzker said in a statement about the S&P upgrade.
S&P warned that “credit pressures remain” but cited an improvement in the state’s financial flexibility, timely budget adoption and elimination of the bill backlog, as well as recent surplus revenues.
The governor’s office noted that between 2015 and 2017, the state suffered eight credit rating downgrades. At its worst, the state’s bill backlog hit nearly $17 billion.