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Despite reassurances from Alaska officials, credit rating agencies don't have good news

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published March 2, 2016

A visit from Alaska officials didn't sway the top three credit rating agencies from recent negative outlooks or downgrades to Alaska's bond rating.

Gov. Bill Walker, Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck, Deputy Revenue Commissioner Jerry Burnett and Debt Manager Deven Mitchell traveled to New York last week "to make the case to members of Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings that Alaska should maintain its strong credit rating," Walker said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

Since January, S&P, Fitch and Moody's have either changed their ratings for Alaska for the worse, or put the state on a negative watch.

S&P downgraded the state's general obligation credit rating from top-tier AAA to AA+ in January, and affirmed that decision this week.

On Monday, Moody's dropped Alaska's general obligation rating from AAA to AA1. Fitch on Monday said it would retain a top AAA bond rating but said it might deliver a downgrade soon, putting the state on a "negative watch" as lawmakers deal with a $3.8 billion state budget deficit.

"Much like a credit score affects individual Alaskans' ability to buy a house or car, the ratings from these agencies affects the state's ability to build a stronger Alaska — through infrastructure and other capital projects," Walker said. "I'm disappointed by this news, but I'm confident that we can pull together to improve our fiscal outlook. These bond rating agencies' actions underscore the need to resolve our fiscal situation as soon as possible."

Efforts to balance the state's budget will have an impact on the economy no matter which path or paths lawmakers decide to take, according to a recent study by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The choices for legislators include spending cuts, implementing new taxes and Permanent Fund earnings.

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