Georgia Secures AAA Bond Rating
Friday, June 14th, 2019
Governor Brian P. Kemp announced Georgia again secured the highest ratings of AAA with a stable outlook from the three main credit rating agencies: Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s (S&P). Of the states that issue general obligation bonds, only nine currently meet this standard. Georgia’s upcoming general obligation bond sale will fund over $997 million in capital projects. The Peach State's AAA rating allows for the lowest possible interest costs when going to market next week.
“This announcement is great news for Georgia, demonstrating our commitment to fiscal balance and ensuring we can meet our present and future obligations. Maintaining the Peach State's AAA bond rating is one of my highest priorities as governor, and I am proud that we again secured this important distinction,” said Governor Kemp. “Our fiscal leadership means that our bonds are highly attractive to investors, and as a result, enables the state to save taxpayers millions of dollars each year with low interest rates for borrowing.
"This rating emphasizes the strength of our economy and shows companies that we are a well-managed, reliable state in which to invest.”
Fitch, Moody’s, and S&P cited the strength of Georgia’s economy with a positive employment trend, growth of the state’s rainy day fund, a balanced approach to primary revenue sources, and consistent funding of obligations as factors contributing to AAA ratings. The credit rating agencies’ individual ratings are Aaa, AAA and AAA, respectively, which are the highest ratings available and indicative of sound fiscal management.
Bond Rating Agency Report Excerpts
“Georgia's 'AAA' Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) reflects the state's conservative debt management, proven willingness and ability to maintain fiscal balance and a broad-based and expanding economy with job growth outpacing national trends. The state proactively addressed weakened revenues during the great recession through steep spending cuts and draws from its rainy-day fund (the revenue shortfall reserve [RSR]). Since then, Georgia has maintained a conservative approach to fiscal management, by limiting spending growth and making progress in rebuilding the RSR balance. … Georgia’s long-term liability burden is low… While the state issues bonds regularly for capital needs, amortization of principal is rapid. Additionally, Georgia fully funds its actuarially determined contributions (ADCs) for pensions and the net pension liability is a low burden on resources.”
Moody’s Investors Service:
“Georgia's (Aaa stable) strong credit profile reflects relatively low debt and pension obligations and robust fiscal management and governance. … Georgia's economic growth has driven revenue growth … The revenue out-performance has strengthened Georgia's finances and has contributed to the persistent build-up in its rainy day fund, the revenue shortfall reserve. … Georgia's long-term liabilities are moderate, and unlikely to grow to a level that pressures the state's budget. … The state’s approach to debt management reflects Georgia’s commitment to maintaining an affordable debt burden. … Georgia's strong governance framework and financial management practices have helped to support the state's rating over many years.”
S&P Global Ratings:
“The AAA rating reflects our view of the state’s well-diversified and broad-based economic growth that is outpacing that of the nation; strong financial monitoring and oversight with a history of budget adjustments, mainly through expenditure reductions, to restore fiscal balance; additional flexibility provided by continued growth in the revenue shortfall reserve (RSR); moderate debt position bolstered by rapid amortization; and proactive management of long-term liabilities through full funding of the state's portion of pension contributions and the creation of other postemployment benefit (OPEB) fund reserves… Georgia’s credit fundamentals remain strong, anchored by continued economic growth.”