Friday, May 6, 2022
SPRINGFIELD—A 6th upgrade in less than a year proves Illinois is on the right path toward fixing its finances.
S&P Global Ratings praised Illinois' responsible budget as it raised the state’s rating Friday – the second time in less than a year it has upgraded the state’s rating. All three major ratings agencies have now raised the state’s ratings two notches in less than a year. This comes after 20 years of downgrades – the bulk of them – eight – under the previous administration.
“These upgrades are good news for Illinois taxpayers because they lower the costs for public works projects like roads and bridges that taxpayers pay for,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said.
In her six years in office, Comptroller Mendoza has paid down bills and shortened the time state vendors wait to be paid.
“I've paid the backlog down from $16.7 billion to an accounts payable of $2.5 billion today,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said. “The oldest bill in my office is 14 working days old, down from 210 business days when I took office. In all their upgrades, the rating agencies have noted that progress.”
Comptroller Mendoza also championed a series of transparency reforms that passed the General Assembly by unanimous or near-unanimous margins, opening the state’s books for taxpayers, legislators and the rating agencies to see.
"Stronger-than-forecast tax revenues and transparent reporting both from the comptroller and the governor's office of management and budget aiding in addressing longstanding credit weaknesses," S&P said in its announcement Friday.
S&P, like Fitch ratings on Thursday, praised the responsibility of this budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pritzker that included savings championed by Comptroller Mendoza. It included $1 billion for the state’s Rainy Day Fund and $500 million in additional payments to the pension fund, lowering that fund’s shortfall by $1.8 billion.
Comptroller Mendoza supported an effort to require regular ongoing payments into both funds. The budget includes $45 million a year for the Rainy Day Fund, but Comptroller Mendoza will continue seeking to raise that number.
“Six upgrades in less than a year make it clear that Illinois is continuing on the right path that the Comptroller’s Office, working together with the Governor’s Office and the legislative leaders, began when I took office to make strategic and fiscally responsible cash management decisions,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “I’ve been laser-focused on transparency of fiscal information, paying down the state’s debts, and prioritized saving for a rainy day. Let’s keep it going.”