The state of Florida’s bond rating was improved by Moody’s to AAA for its General Obligation bonds, the state announced Friday, marking the first time in the history of the state that each of the Big Three rating agencies(Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and Fitch) have the state’s rating at AAA.
Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging incumbent Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate, touted the ratings as proof of the strength of the state’s economy, and of the state’s economic recovery, including 1.54 million jobs under his term and a reduction of state debt by $9 billion.
“When I became Governor in 2011, Florida’s economy was in terrible shape,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “By December 2010, state debt and unemployment had skyrocketed, taxes had been needlessly hiked by more than $2 billion and frivolous spending was commonplace – all costing Florida families more than 800,000 jobs. Since day one, we’ve worked nonstop to reverse this course, and today’s rating from Moody’s demonstrates the success of Florida’s economic turnaround.”
The GO upgrade reflects a sustained trend of improvement in the Florida economy and finances, low state debt and pension ratios, and reduced near-term liability risks via the state-run insurance companies, Moody’s said in their report.
Due to the strong job growth in Florida, long-term growth prospects are favorable despite the challenges posed by an aging population base. In addition, Moody’s said, over the past decade the state-run property insurance company has reduced their insurance-in-force exposure by two-thirds while both the property and reinsurance entities have increased their claims-paying resources.
The top bond rating means that the state pays less in interest when it borrows money.
“Sound fiscal policy and strong leadership has provided a platform for growth and continuous improvement in Florida’s economy and finances over the last seven years,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said in a prepared statement. “Governor Scott and many leaders across our state have worked tirelessly to ensure Florida has the tools and resources it needs to increase jobs, attract visitors and secure stability for the growing number of consumers that come to our state. While today’s announcement of the upgraded GO rating is great news for Floridians, we must continue doing everything we can to reinforce Florida’s strong economic security.”
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