CHICAGO — Fitch Ratings late Monday downgraded Illinois’ general obligation rating one notch to A-minus and warned of possible further action by leaving the state’s credit on negative watch ahead of $1.3 billion of short- and long-term GO issuance in three deals over the coming weeks.
Gov. Pat Quinn had hoped that the General Assembly’s passage last week of pension reforms would stave off any negative rating actions and buy the state some additional time to address a nearly $13 billion budget deficit and liquidity crisis in the current legislative session.
But Fitch analysts said the state’s challenges are too severe and persistent. They believe it is unlikely the fiscal 2011 budget will “sufficiently address either the annual operating deficit or accumulated liabilities.”
The results of the current session will drive analysts’ decision as to whether Illinois holds on to its current rating level. Fitch dropped the state’s $23.4 billion of GO debt two notches down to its current level last July.
Fitch’s action follows Standard & Poor’s decision on Friday to place the state’s A-plus rating on negative CreditWatch. Moody’s Investors Service on Monday affirmed its A2 rating and negative outlook.