ATLANTA – The state of Georgia will be able to able to sell more than $1.1 billion in bonds next month for building projects at the lowest possible interest rates.
The three main credit rating agencies have again given the Peach State a AAA rating on its general obligation bonds, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday.
Georgia has benefited from AAA ratings for decades, but that top score was far from guaranteed in 2021.
“In a year of unprecedented challenges – working with the General Assembly – we cut taxes, balanced the state’s budget, invested in essential services and avoided draconian budget cuts,” Kemp said.
“These decisions resulted in an unemployment rate below the national average and the lowest of the 10 most populated states, record job and investment growth and being named the top state for business for the eighth year in a row.”
The state’s financial situation looked precarious last year. After the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to close and lay off workers, Kemp and the legislature imposed 10% spending cuts on state agencies across the board.
But the pandemic-driven recession didn’t have nearly as much impact on tax collections as had been expected. As a result, the fiscal 2022 state budget taking effect July 1 restores many of this year’s spending reductions.
Georgia is among only nine states to receive a AAA credit rating on its general obligation bonds this year from Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings.
“Georgia’s AAA long-term rating is supported by our view of the state’s overall strong credit fundamentals, including its large and diverse economic base that exhibited comparative resilience relative to the U.S. in light of uncertain public health and safety risks presented by COVID-19,” S&P wrote.
“In our view, Georgia made necessary budget adjustments and emerged from this challenging social and economic landscape in a comparatively steady financial position.”