HARTFORD, CT — It was the second time in less than two days that a Wall Street rating agency downgraded Connecticut’s bonds.
On Monday, Moody’s Investor Service downgraded Connecticut’s debt from Aa3 to A1.
“The downgrades reflect continuing erosion of Connecticut’s finances, evidenced by the pending elimination of its rainy day fund, growing budget gaps and rising debt levels,” Moody’s analysts state in their outlook. “The pressures created by growing fixed costs, coupled with weak economic performance, are unlikely to relent and will raise the risk of credit-negative actions such as deficit borrowing or backloaded financings.”
The analysis goes onto say, “The rating also reflects a lagging economy that is highly dependent on volatile revenue sources and three consecutive years of population loss.”
Last Friday, Fitch Ratings downgraded Connecticut’s general obligation bonds.
State Treasurer Denise Nappier said the news “underscores the serious challenge that the state faces.”
She said clearly a “course correction is necessary, and that a more disciplined path must lead in the direction of responsibly addressing our long-term liabilities.”
Nappier suggested the legislature adopt her idea to authorize tax-secured revenue bonds to reduce the cost of borrowing and allow savings to be directed toward rebuilding the Rainy Day Fund, which will be depleted this year.
The two downgrades come at the time when the state is looking to go to the market to sell $650 million in general obligation bonds.
Chris McClure, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said it’s “yet another call to action from a credit rating agency.”
“We must immediately take the necessary steps to mitigate the current year deficit and then balance the biennial budget with recurring measures to reduce spending and structural solutions to our long term problems,” McClure said. “The governor has proposed specific ways to do exactly these things and we hope to see swift action to avoid further harm to our credit rating.”
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, agreed.
“This underscores the severity of the economic crisis our state is facing. It also makes it clear that any budget moving forward cannot look like the budgets of past years,” Fasano said. “There needs to be a bipartisan effort to pursue significant long-term structural changes so that we can restore confidence in our state today, and build a better future for tomorrow.”
Republican and Democratic legislative leaders are expected to release their budget proposals later today before heading into negotiations with Malloy on Wednesday.
Malloy released his revised budget numbers Monday. His proposal reduces spending by 1.2 percent in the first year and relies on municipalities to help pick up at least part of the cost of teacher pensions, while also eliminating funding in other municipal aid categories. It also reduces funding for state parks and social services.