Muni Minute: Connecticut’s $550M Sale; Pension & Budget Blues

In the March 14 installment of Muni Minute – The Bond Buyer's 60-second video series that examines a top municipal market story that will impact the coming week – we take a look at Connecticut’s upcoming bond sale amid budget pressures and credit stress. We also dig into budget and fiscal problems plaguing some other states as well, with a special emphasis on pension underfunding.

VOICE OVER: Connecticut is set to sell $550 million of general obligation bonds Wednesday. One of several states, whose budget problems and pension loans have cost worry across many land. Moody's, S&P and Kroll have negative outlooks on Connecticut, mostly due to budget stress. Fitch has a stable outlook, reflecting its view Connecticut remains the country's wealthiest state. While Connecticut's ratings remain high, in the AA range, other states do not fare so well with Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey topping that list.

The lowest-rated state in America, Illinois remains without a budget and has almost $113 billion of unfunded pension liabilities, a funded ratio of about 41%. Pennsylvania has no budget either for the second year in a row. Its credit quality is crumbling along with that of its schools, with one district teetering near bankruptcy. New Jersey is the second lowest-rated state, due largely to underfunded pensions. A new budget plan would hike support, but would still leave pensions only 40% funded. I'm Chip Barnett, this has been your Muni Minute.