Moody’s upgrades Illinois bond rating for first time in 20 years

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Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker answers questions from the media, along with Dr. Ngozi Ezike, left, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic from his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP, Pool)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Moody’s Investor Service upgraded Illinois’ state bonds on Tuesday, the first such rating upgrade in more than 20 years.

Moody’s last upgraded the bond rating for Illinois in June 1998. On Tuesday, the service cited “material improvements” with only “constrained use of federal aid,” including increased pension payments, repayment of federal borrowing and keeping the bill backlog in check. 

The rating of a state’s bonds is a measure of their credit quality. A higher bond rating generally means the state can borrow at a lower interest rate, saving taxpayers millions of dollars. 

Gov. JB Pritzker hailed the improved rating, saying, “Moody’s ratings upgrade demonstrates that Illinois’ finances are heading in the right direction for the first time in two decades. A ratings upgrade pays momentous dividends for taxpayers, and the people of Illinois deserve credit for their incredible resilience and determination.”

The Governor’s office said the Fiscal Year 2022 budget protects the state’s most vulnerable Illinoisans, pays down the state’s debts, and rebuilds the state stronger than ever as Illinois comes out of the pandemic.

Illinois remains the lowest-rated state on Moody’s scale, just two notches below New Jersey, the second lowest.

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