The credit rating agencies are using the financial crisis they helped create as an excuse for not putting an end to their discriminatory system for rating municipal bonds, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer told the chairman of a House panel that is scheduled today to examine the roles rating agencies played in the financial crisis.

"For far too long, the method for rating municipal bonds has produced profits for the agencies, bond insurers, and investors, but bilked taxpayers," Lockyer said in a statement accompanying a letter he sent yesterday to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "With state and local governments across the country struggling to cope with the contagion from our economic ills, now is the time for taxpayers to gain equal status with corporations. Unfortunately, the agencies are using the crisis they helped create as an excuse to delay reform. Taxpayers should have to wait no longer for simple fairness. Congress should not hesitate to act."

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