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S&P Downgrades Pa. Credit As Budget Standoff Continues
22 September 2017, 12:52 | Rodolfo Quinn
Wolf Sees Downgrade Without Budget Deal Soon
The credit rating agency lowered its rating on Pennsylvania's debt. "The highest current rating is "AAA" is held by 14 states, while the lowest rating is 'BBB" held by IL. Wednesday's downgrade marked S&P's sixth negative action or statement on Pennsylvania's creditworthiness since 2012.
The state treasury is sitting on $12 billion in rainy day accounts off this year's general fund budget, yet Pennsylvania won't pay its bills!
"For months, I have warned that a credit downgrade was looming". "I have said repeatedly for three years that we must responsibly fund the budget with recurring revenues". "We would be using a significant amount of one-time funds to balance a 2.2 billion dollar hole". "If an agreement has not progressed by next week, I will be forced to take further steps to manage this situation".
After months of warnings, S&P Global Ratings has downgraded Pennsylvania's credit, citing concerns over its chronically unbalanced budget.
Democrats have accused anti-tax House Republicans for the downgrade, while House Republicans blame S&P and state officers who "refuse to pay bills".
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The Senate will take up a house proposal that was passed lat week, which would take money from PennDOT and the E.P.A's coffers that are not being used. That could mean more than $50 million in extra interest cost this fiscal year and every year after that, the governor's office said, particularly as lawmakers look to borrow $1 billion or more to help bail out the deficit. Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati summed it up best when he said, 'This is not governing; this is an embarrassment'. Wolf wants higher taxes on home heating gas, cellphone bills, etc.
It's also the second downgrade in three years, as the state struggles to crawl out from a post-recession deficit. And it is true that there is always two sides to a budget deficit.
What is not clear is why Torsella and DePasquale were being blamed for approving deficit spending. And the reason for their reluctance to cut spending is quite obvious - the public will not stand for it because investing in our communities is what's best for Pennsylvania. The action caused a lot of dramatic words from state leaders and many calls to settle the budget, but no signs of compromise.
House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody of Allegheny County called today's news a blow to the state's fiscal standing, but also an opportunity for everyone to get back to work on a "real budget solution".
The House plan - developed largely by rank-and-file Republicans, including several midstate lawmakers - relies on $630 million in special fund transfers from state funds with excess or dormant monies.
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