Amid the ongoing state budget impasse, Illinois' credit rating has taken another hit by Moody's Investor Services.
The credit rating agency downgraded Illinois' credit rating to two levels above junk status as the state is poised to enter into its 12th month without a budget, with Moody's citing "political gridlock" as a reason behind the move. Moody's also made note of the likelihood that the state's debt will soon surpass the previous record level of $10 billion.
The one-level downgrade to Baa2 on some $26 billion in debt is another blow to a state that already had the lowest credit rating in the nation prior to the budget debacle; and as a result taxpayers will pay an ever larger bill when the state borrows money. As previously reported, Illinois is slated to borrow $550 million next week.
UPDATE 1 (2:48 p.m.): House Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement blasting Rauner for the ongoing state budget impasse:
Governor Rauner has created the crisis he so publicly sought. The crisis he wanted when, shortly after taking office, he said 'Crisis creates opportunity. Crisis creates leverage ... and we've got to use that leverage of the crisis...'
It's an outrage that we have gone nearly a year without a state budget. This downgrade is directly attributable to Governor Rauner's reckless decision to hold the state hostage for more than a year and to create the crisis he desired. The governor's own proposed budgets are billions of dollars out of balance, and, for almost a month, a bipartisan plan to provide emergency funding for human services providers and our most vulnerable has languished on Governor Rauner's desk. He refuses to sign that bill because he continues seeking a state of crisis in Illinois.
We are committed to continuing our negotiations with the governor on his agenda, but we won't support an agenda that benefits the wealthy and corporations at the expense of middle-class families. The governor needs to work with legislators to pass a budget that ensures we continue to fund education, health care for the frail elderly and persons with disabilities, and other basic services that Illinois families rely on, rather than refusing to allow government to function in order to continue his manufactured crisis.
Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Steven Yaffe blamed the Madigan for the credit downgrade.
"Mike Madigan caused this credit downgrade. He has been driving Illinois into a financial ditch for three decades and just led the charge to increase Illinois' debt by another $7 billion," Yaffe said. "Governor Rauner has been pushing for reforms that would grow our economy, balance the budget, and save the pension system since Day One, but Mike Madigan has used every tool available to him to block financial reforms that will help this state. Mike Madigan owns this credit downgrade."