* The governor’s decision to use all of the projected FY20 revenue growth resulting from the unexpected April revenue spike to make the state’s full statutory pension payment and not short it by $900 million is going over well in New York, reports Karen Pierog at Reuters…
Carol Spain, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings, which rates Illinois BBB-minus, said the stronger revenue projections and the decision not to extend the pension amortization period “increases the likelihood of near-term credit stability.”
“However, the state still faces rising pension costs beyond fiscal 2020, and we expect that the state will continue to struggle to structurally balance its budget while making progress on its bill backlog absent any significant revenue increase or cuts,” she added.
Ted Hampton, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, which rates Illinois Baa3, said, “putting more money into Illinois’ pensions sooner, in our view, would prove better for the state’s credit than any form of financial engineering that reduces near-term contributions.”
Eric Kim, an analyst at Fitch Ratings, which rates Illinois BBB with a negative outlook, said that lowering or delaying payments under the current inadequate pension schedule “was going to be negative from our perspective.” Suspending the plan for at least a year “is a good step,” he added. He also welcomed news that the higher April revenue will help address a $1.6 billion deficit in the state’s current budget.
Illinois is nowhere near out of the woods yet. But credit where credit is due (pun intended).