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*** UPDATED x3 - Frerichs responds - Mendoza responds *** Moody’s also downgrades Illinois credit rating

Thursday, Jun 1, 2017

*** UPDATE 1 ***  Comptroller Mendoza…

On our 701st day without a budget, two more bond rating agencies gave Illinois the 7th and 8th credit downgrades since Gov. Rauner took office 2 ½ years ago. Before he took office, Illinois had been paying its backlog of bills down. It got down to less than $5 billion. In just two years of his failed leadership, he has about tripled that stack of unpaid bills to $14.5 billion and growing. Both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s dropped the state to one grade above junk status Thursday.

While all sides could try harder to compromise toward a budget solution as the General Assembly has with every previous governor, business groups and independent third parties put the blame for Illinois’ crisis mainly on Governor Rauner. Standard & Poor’s said in its last assessment: “Illinois’ fiscal crisis is, in our view, a man-made byproduct of policy ultimatums placed on the state budget process.” In other words, Governor Rauner has created and now owns this crisis.

In the meantime, our office will continue triaging how to make payments to Illinois’ struggling schools, nursing homes, hospice centers and aging facilities from a near-empty bank account. We’re about to reach the breaking point at which court-ordered payments will exceed the state’s revenues. Illinois’ sick, elderly, young, and most vulnerable are paying the price. This crisis is untenable, unconscionable, and unnecessary. It’s time that the Governor stop campaigning and take responsibility for his failures and fulfill his constitutional mandate to introduce a balanced budget.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Treasurer Frerichs…

“Two credit downgrades in 24 hours further underscores the need for a full, balanced budget,” Frerichs said. “My warnings were ignored and credit agencies have responded. We need a bipartisan budget now to end this crisis.”

*** UPDATE 3 *** Illinois Working Together Campaign Director Jake Lewis…

“In light of today’s downgrades, the seventh and eighth downgrades of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s tenure, we are reminded of Rauner’s June 3, 2013 tweet:


Ouch.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* Like the S&P downgrade earlier today, this new rating is just a single notch above junk bond status…


* Press release…

Moody’s Investors Service has lowered the rating on the State of Illinois’ general obligation (GO) bonds to Baa3 from Baa2, amid a prolonged political impasse that has prevented progress on a growing pension deficit and an increasing backlog of unpaid bills. With this action, ratings of several state debt types linked to the GO rating also were lowered: Build Illinois Bonds backed by sales tax revenues, to Baa3 from Baa2; the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority’s McCormick Place project bonds, to Ba1 from Baa3; and the state’s Civic Center program bonds, also to Ba1 from Baa3. Debt outstanding for all affected securities totals about $31.5 billion, but not all outstanding Build Illinois and Metropolitan Pier issues are rated by Moody’s. The outlook applicable to the state and these associated credits remains negative.

Legislative gridlock has sidetracked efforts not only to address pension needs but also to achieve fiscal balance, allowing a backlog of bills to approach $15 billion, or about 40% of the state’s operating budget. During the past year of fruitless negotiations and partisan wrangling, fundamental credit challenges have intensified enough to warrant a downgrade, regardless of whether a fiscal compromise is reached in an extended session. As the regular legislative session elapsed, political barriers to progress appeared to harden, indicating both the severity of the state’s challenges and the political difficulty of advocating their solutions. Extending the impasse, and the state’s embedded operating deficit of at least $5 billion (or 15% of general fund revenue) would signal further pressure on the state’s credit position. But the state’s credit could stabilize at the current level in the event of a political consensus that more closely aligns revenues and spending, without relying on unsustainable fiscal measures.

The downgrade to Baa3 for Illinois’ GO bonds is consistent with the state’s intensifying pressure from pension liabilities; by our calculation, the state’s unfunded pension liability (Moody’s adjusted net pension liability, or ANPL) for its five major plans in aggregate grew 25% in the year ended June 30, 2016, to $251 billion. The current rating also acknowledges intrinsic credit strengths, primarily the state’s sovereign powers over revenue and spending; a diverse and strong economic base with the long-term economic potential to provide for its liabilities, and statutory protections for bondholders, primarily requirements for monthly transfers in advance of semiannual debt service payment dates. During the past decade, the state’s governance framework has allowed practices that greatly offset these strengths. After eight downgrades in as many years, Illinois’ rating is an outlier among states, most of which are rated at least eight notches higher. The rating on the Build Illinois sales-tax revenue bonds is capped at the GO rating because of lack of sufficient segregation of pledged revenues from the state’s operating needs. The Met Pier and Civic Center program bonds are both rated a notch below the state GO bonds, because of the need for annual legislative appropriation of payments.

Rating Outlook

The state’s negative outlook is consistent with its potential for additional credit weakening because of a continuing political impasse that has left Illinois increasingly vulnerable to adverse revenue trends and severely underfunded retiree benefit plans.

Factors that Could Lead to an Upgrade

    Implementation of a realistic plan to provide long-term funding for pension obligations

    Progress in reducing payment backlog and adoption of legal framework to prevent renewed build-up of unpaid bills

    Enactment of recurring fiscal measures that support expectation of sustainable, structural balance

Factors that Could Lead to a Downgrade

    Continued increases in unfunded pension liabilities and indications of unwillingness to allocate sufficient resources to retiree benefits

    Persistent and growing structural imbalance that pressures liquidity and increases payment backlog or bonded debt burden

    Court rulings that increase the volume of payment obligations that are legally prioritized

    Difficulty managing impact of any other adverse negative events, such as an unexpected economic downturn or reduction of federal Medicaid funding

    Failure to enact legislation providing for timely payment of subject-to-appropriation debt

* Let’s revisit

The governor said negotiations stalled over term limits, local government consolidation, workers’ compensation and a property tax freeze.

None of which were mentioned by Moody’s, of course.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

61 Comments
  1. - Honeybear - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    Luckily this missile just contains a
    “Daisy Cutter”


  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:19 pm:

    –I think we all recognize that we are letting the state burn. We’ve destroyed our social-service safety net. In my opinion, at this point, there’s not enough reform to counter the damage we’ve done to the state in the past two years. –

    Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, Gov. Rauner’s House floor leader, 5-28-17.

    Before Boss Rauner’s Frat Boys gave him a brodown. For telling the truth.


  3. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:19 pm:

    The bond rating agencies care about cash in and cash out.

    None of those 4 items affect the cash flow.


  4. - illnoised - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    And this helps the business climate in Illinois?


  5. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    Well… What WOULD a Junk Governor look like?

    – MrJM


  6. - Anyone? - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:25 pm:

    “The governor said negotiations stalled over term limits, local government consolidation, workers’ compensation and a property tax freeze.”
    Can anyone identify which state budget line item and savings amount each of the above falls under within the Governor’s budget…… Anyone?


  7. - A Jack - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:29 pm:

    Tick Tock needs a friend, an Illinois bond that keeps falling down.


  8. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    I don’t think the Governor has dropped his support for pension reform


  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    –The governor said negotiations stalled over term limits, local government consolidation, workers’ compensation and a property tax freeze.–

    What do any of those have to do with putting together a state budget?

    We’re to believe that a state budget is not possible, or necessary, without those things?

    The Raunerbots are awfully silent today. Must be a software update. They’ve had two years to put the spin together, yet nada.


  10. - So tired of political hacks - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:37 pm:

    Perfect example of failed leadership, let’s let bonds interest rates go higher, run deficits between 14.6 and 20 billion, then borrow are way out. Giving it to the rich who can by the bonds all while selling out public employees and blaming them for our failures.


  11. - Montrose - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:39 pm:

    Waiting for Rauner to blame Madigan for this downgrade in 3…2…1….


  12. - Whatthewhat - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    –Court rulings that increase the volume of payment obligations that are legally prioritized–

    Ya know the Governor could ask the courts for some relief from the consent decrees and court orders, but he hasn’t done that. He could ask to renegotiate or change the terms of the orders, but he hadn’t done that. He could stop ordering his staff to go to court and agree to extension after extension which keeps flowing out the door money we don’t have. He could stop entering into agreements we can’t pay for or pretending government is functioning as usual. It’s not.

    But each of these require a desire to end this mess and act like a leader. Rather than turning off the faucet he’s allowed the sink to overflow and take out the entire sewer system.


  13. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    Focus people, focus. No, it doesn’t mention term limits, but cites the broad, diverse economy of Illinois as a strength which:

    “During the past decade, the state’s governance framework has allowed practices that greatly offset these strengths. After eight downgrades in as many years, Illinois’ rating is an outlier among states, most of which are rated at least eight notches higher.”


  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    ===Focus people, focus===

    I am - Louis G Atsaves -

    I’m focused. I’m focused where I need to look. Mike Schrimpf and Candidate Rauner say “governors own”

    ===“Illinois’ credit rating has been downgraded 13 times under Pat Quinn and now, because of his failed leadership, our state’s economy and finances are still broken. Pat Quinn put special interest politics ahead of Illinois workers. We need to change direction before it’s too late.” – Rauner campaign spokesperson Mike Schrimpf===

    I’m focused like a laser… lol


  15. - Mama - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:50 pm:

    Correct them if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this low rating play into the Wall Street hands when they start buying state properties, & giving loans to vendors who are or have already gone broke.


  16. - Mama - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    Comptroller Mendoza, we need like this press release. Please keep educating the public all day everyday. Thank you.


  17. - Saluki - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:58 pm:

    At some point can we have a post where we are allowed to use fowl language, post rabid comments, gratuitous insults and “rumors”?


  18. - Mama - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 2:59 pm:

    Sorry, I mean, correct “Me” if I’m wrong.


  19. - RIJ - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    I am so freaking tired of the word “blame.” It’s in nearly every blog post today! We get it - “I, (insert obnoxious politician’s name), am not at fault. BLAME (insert second obnoxious politician’s name).” Circular firing squad.


  20. - Joe - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    Should have went junk. That might have increased the pressure.


  21. - William j Kelly - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:07 pm:

    Rauner will not win reelection in 2018 but his problem is not the general, Rauner’s problem will be a Republican primary, guaranteed. www.williamjkelly.org


  22. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:13 pm:

    ===At some point can we have a post where we are allowed to use fowl language===

    Duck no!


  23. - Lurker - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    This crisis is untenable, unconscionable, and unnecessary.

    Johnny Cochran would be proud.


  24. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    The nonbudget items should be worked on separately. Imagine jamming marijuana legalization into budget negotiations and refusing to pass a budget without it. That’s no way to govern.


  25. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    ===Duck no!===

    Cub off!
    Really though, we need a budget. A budget. A budget. Not unconstitutional pension reform. Not term limits. Not any sort of generic “reform” that doesn’t really mean anything as far as the health of the state government and its ability to pay its bills. A budget.


  26. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    ===At some point can we have a post where we are allowed to use fowl language===

    You just need to be more creative in your phrasing.


  27. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    –This crisis is untenable, unconscionable, and unnecessary.–

    This crisis is deliberate and is achieving the goals of dismantling the “collectivist” institutions of the the social services infrastructure and public higher education.

    The runaway GRF operating deficit is a means to ensure that they won’t be put back together again anytime soon.

    Rauner would go after more if not for the court orders preventing him from doing so. He tried to bleed local governments, too, by holding back their share of the income tax until the mini House GOP revolt made him back down.

    It’s been 2.5 years. This guy ain’t a mystery. He’s doing it in plain sight.


  28. - Arock - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    “fulfill his constitutional mandate to introduce a balanced budget”- Mendoza, how many truly balanced budgets(that truly met constitutional guidelines) did you vote for when you were in the House? Maybe one out of ten? Isn’t the House suppose to pass a balance budget? The last one they passed was $7 billion in the red. It was so bad even the Senate wouldn’t take it up. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides, but Illinois needs reforms just as bad as it needs a budget.


  29. - Pundent - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:22 pm:

    =“During the past decade, the state’s governance framework has allowed practices that greatly offset these strengths. After eight downgrades in as many years, Illinois’ rating is an outlier among states, most of which are rated at least eight notches higher.”

    And your take away from this is term limits? Wow.

    Isn’t it more logical to conclude that our governance framework problems stem from being unable to balance our revenue with our spending?


  30. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:23 pm:

    ==Imagine jamming marijuana legalization into budget negotiations and refusing to pass a budget without it==

    Heck, at least that does something tangible to increase revenue!


  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:28 pm:

    –There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides, but Illinois needs reforms just as bad as it needs a budget.–

    Meaningless word salad.

    $14.4B and going up like a rocket. That’s real.


  32. - Pundent - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:29 pm:

    =Illinois needs reforms just as bad as it needs a budget=.

    That’s an opinion. The only way to make that comment a fact is by showing your math. The budget math is clear. The reform math at best seems to add up to 1.4%/$500M.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:29 pm:

    Oh - Arock -, lol

    If you want to admit..

    1) Rauner is grossly inept and can’t fulfill his constitutional mandate to submit a balanced budget…

    2) Rauner is the old Status Quo that couldn’t balance the budget, and continues to be the “40 years” Status Quo with 3, grossly unbalanced, phony, sham budgets to Rauner’s credit, and that “shaking up” and “bringing back” were just as phony as Rauner…

    … then we both can agree… Rauner fails.

    lol


  34. - Arock - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:39 pm:

    OW -There has not been a balanced budget since 2001 so they all fail, no one has presented a balanced budget in over a decade if not longer. At least Rauner wants to implement some changes that will hopefully turn the page but your side is still stuck in the same old ways that got us into this mess. Raising taxes without structural change will mean more taxes in the future with a smaller tax base to get it from. Take your lol and shove it, you offer no insight to any solutions to the problems.


  35. - Nick Name - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:43 pm:

    To update no. 3: Not on Twitter, but I do love it. God help me I do love it so.


  36. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    “You just need to be more creative in your phrasing.” You can Madigan your Blagojevich all you want but you might have a Cullertonin’ Rauner.


  37. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:44 pm:

    –At least Rauner wants to implement some changes that will hopefully turn the page but your side is still stuck in the same old ways that got us into this mess. Raising taxes without structural change will mean more taxes in the future with a smaller tax base to get it from. Take your lol and shove it, you offer no insight to any solutions to the problems.–

    Do you think that shallow argle-bargle offers “insights to any solutions?”

    That’s the stuff quack spin doctors peddle to obfuscate and distract.

    You could teach Koko the gorilla to communicate that nonsense in an afternoon.


  38. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    ===At least Rauner wants to…===

    No. Nope. Sorry… No.

    The budget.

    I have you the two truths. The rest? Your case is as phony as Rauner’s, lol.

    ===…without…===

    Nope.

    Again, the changes measure to 1.4% or $500+ million… Estimates are $20 billion in a backlog of bills. Nope, “good try”, but it’s a failure.

    This premise of a “want” equals a “required”… no wonder you think Rauner… doing the Status Quo, destroying social services, higher education, running up debts… is trying something different.

    Rauner is doing one thing different… purposely destroying a state.

    ===you offer no insight to any solutions to the problems===

    I have, many times.

    Thanks also for elevating me to the Governor’s stature. However, Rauner is grossly inept, so I dunno how I take your “elevation”, lol


  39. - DeseDemDose - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    I finally believe Rauner is more inept than Trump.


  40. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:52 pm:

    To Update 3:

    Bravo! Finally the two are paired to expose Rauner’s hypocrisy. Well done Mr. Lewis.


  41. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 3:55 pm:

    Illinois Working Together’s Twitter… It’s good stuff no matter your side.

    Sometimes you too your cap to good messaging…

    Rauner? They do an excellent job at owning the day, swamping everyone, and getting a spotlight off them.

    CrisisCreatin’Rauner - A bit too harsh, or a bit more subtle and pointed, more like IWT…

    Now the Dems…(face palm)


  42. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 4:12 pm:

    Face palm indeed. It can’t be that hard for others to find a quote/sound byte exposing Rauner’s (HB’s favorite word).


  43. - Shouldawoulda - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 4:17 pm:

    Mendoza needs to get some better writers . . . .


  44. - Pundent - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 4:32 pm:

    =Raising taxes without structural change will mean more taxes in the future with a smaller tax base to get it from.=

    So the obvious conclusion is that “structural change” will mean less taxes in the future. But for some reason there’s no math to support it. I wonder why that is?

    Rauner isn’t interested in “reform” or “structural change” those are simply the buzz words that he uses to distract from the willful destruction he’s engaged in.


  45. - anon2 - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 4:44 pm:

    Candidate Rauner claimed the Gov. Quinn was completely reponsible for credit downgrades on his watch. Now Gov. Rauner accepts zero responsibility for the rapid downgrades on HIS watch.


  46. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 4:56 pm:

    “Heck, at least that does something tangible to increase revenue!”

    That’s right, and it alone could match Rauner’s 1.4% reform revenue.


  47. - Candidate - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 5:04 pm:

    Can Illinois Working Together please run for governor?


  48. - Small town taxpayer - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 5:19 pm:

    ===by our calculation, the state’s unfunded pension liability (Moody’s adjusted net pension liability, or ANPL) for its five major plans in aggregate grew 25% in the year ended June 30, 2016, to $251 billion===

    Squeezy the Pension Python has been working overtime this past year. The lack of a budget is costing Illinois dearly. The last 700 days have, and will in the future, cost Illinois taxpayers a fortune.


  49. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 6:50 pm:

    Like how everyone of the, blames the other. One person didn’t get us here. How bout all of you step up and do your job. Lead us to a compromised solution. You are all unacceptable.


  50. - Cleric dcn - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 6:58 pm:

    Bruce you say the downgrade is unacceptable right? So you made 190 million last year and told your supporters vote for me I am a big league businessman. So far as I see it t-ball is your game and you duped them all. I guess you have to give credit where credit is due……….duplicity.


  51. - walker - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 6:58 pm:

    Arock: Since you obviously don’t know the generally accepted definition of the phrase “balanced budget,” your comments on that topic are not worth reading.


  52. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 8:22 pm:

    ==== Isn’t the House suppose to pass a balance budget? ====

    In a word: No.


  53. - park - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 8:58 pm:

    Gee, maybe time for a compromise?


  54. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 10:04 pm:

    @YDD

    Well, no and yes. The thing about the initial passing of a budget by the House is that it doesn’t need to be balanced at that very moment. It can be balanced later with cuts or “revenue enhancements” at the discretion of the governor and legislature. That is exactly why I never understood the initial total veto (except K-12 of course). Rauner could have worked out a budget two years ago, but he wanted the chaos.


  55. - Cadillac - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 10:12 pm:

    === - walker - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 6:58 pm:

    Arock: Since you obviously don’t know the generally accepted definition of the phrase “balanced budget,” your comments on that topic are not worth reading. ===

    LOL. Close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades. Generally accepted in Illinois means nothing.

    I’ll bite. Looking back, when was the last “generally accepted” balanced budget for Illinois achieved?


  56. - JLR - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 10:12 pm:

    These lawmakers are some of the highest paid part-timers in the USA. And they cannot even pass any budget. It is sad that Illinois has to wait so long to fire them. Because as the old saying goes: “What goes around, comes around.”


  57. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 11:16 pm:

    William J. Kelly go away.

    Oswego Longwinded switch to decaf.


  58. - How's it? - Friday, Jun 2, 17 @ 7:01 am:

    They will blame Rauner anyway.

    This is next:

    http://reason.org/files/pension_reform_rhode_island.pdf

    https://www.marketplace.org/2017/03/14/economy/puerto-rico-debt-plan-now-goes-creditors

    https://www.ft.com/content/16381f4e-30ad-11e7-9555-23ef563ecf9a

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/crushing-puerto-rico-drastic-budget-cuts-will-only-deepen-debt-crisis/

    The Madigan-Cullerton Democrat death spiral continues.


  59. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jun 2, 17 @ 7:31 am:

    - How’s it? -,

    Yeah… Except Illinois just had a tax cut, don’t raise revenues like Puerto Rico, and Puerto Rico is a Possession not a state…

    Other than ALL that, you still may be a bit off.


  60. - Juvenal - Friday, Jun 2, 17 @ 8:43 am:

    Everyone can take a lesson from Jake Lewis: succinct stake through the heart.


  61. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jun 2, 17 @ 9:36 am:

    Ahem, it is Democratic death spiral. Because grammar.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Governor's office staff member tested positive, had no close contact with Pritzker
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* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
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