LOS ANGELES — Oregon received AA-plus long-term rating affirmations from two rating agencies Jan. 20 ahead of plans to refund $152 million in general obligation bonds.
Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's both assign stable outlooks. Moody's affirmed its Aa1 rating Jan. 16
Oregon plans to price $86.1 million in 2015 series A higher education refunding GOs and $66.2 million in Series B higher education refunding GOs the week of Feb. 2 in a negotiated deal, according to Fitch
Both rating agencies also affirmed the $5.36 billion in outstanding state GO bonds at AA-plus and $675.55 million in outstanding state appropriation-backed bonds at AA.
"It is our view that the state's finances are poised to remain strong," said S&P credit analyst Gabriel Petek in a release. "The state has succeeded at building up reserves that are now expected to be at generational highs by the end of the current fiscal year."
S&P doesn't anticipate raising the rating during the two-year outlook horizon, Petek said, citing revenue volatility and some institutional difficulty in accumulating reserves. Furthermore, the volatility can materialize both in its revenues and its pension-funded ratios, he said.
State finances are heavily dependent on the personal income tax, a volatile revenue source that declined sharply during the recession, and has since shown steady growth, according to Fitch. The state's management reviews revenue and economic forecasts quarterly and takes measures as necessary to maintain balance, Fitch said.
The series 2015 A GO bonds are being issued through a constitutional article passed by voters in 1944 that allows the state to issue GOs to benefit the state's higher education institutions or activities. The series 2015 B GO bonds are being issued pursuant to a similar, but different state constitutional article that requires a matching component from other non-bond sources of funding.
The bonds are general obligations of the state of Oregon, with the full faith and credit of the state pledged to bond repayment.