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Utah retains top bond rating as it readies to begin $1 billion-plus borrowing spree

Published June 16, 2017 9:40 am

Credit • News comes as state prepares to start borrowing for new prison, accelerated highway projects.
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As Utah prepares to borrow money to build a new state prison and to accelerate highway projects, the nation's big bond-rating companies have again given it their top-possible credit ratings.

The state earned that from S&P Global, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings as it prepares a $146.3 million bond sale scheduled for June 27.

It is the first segment of borrowing for the prison — estimated to cost about $650 million total — plus $1 billion in borrowing over four years that the Legislature approved this year to accelerate road projects such as beginning the West Davis Corridor freeway and converting more of Bangerter Highway into a freeway.

"I am proud that Utah is one of the 10 states receiving a AAA rating by all three rating agencies again this year," said Gov. Gary Herbert.

State Treasurer David Damschen added, "Utah's conservative fiscal principles and wise money management practices earn the highest credit ratings, allowing us to finance large projects at the very best rates available — saving Utah taxpayer dollars."

They said Utah's history of continuous AAA bond ratings dates back to 1965, when S&P initiated its rating system. The state's AAA rating with Moody's dates back to 1973, and with Fitch Ratings it dates back to 1992.

The reports said Utah earned the high rating because of such things as conservative debt and fiscal policies, a diversified state economy, strong management practices, a low unemployment rate, and a strong ability to close budget gaps during economic downturns.






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