Moody's

FLICKR USER SPDUCHAMP (CREATIVE COMMONS)

Moody’s Analytics says Illinois is among the Midwest’s “weakest links.”  That’s according to a report prepared for the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (the legislature's nonpartisan research group). 

State economist Ed Boss acknowledges that an economic downturn could undo any progress toward a balanced budget. 

“I think even though the forecast that Moody’s gives is for some improvement next year, it’s not much," he said. "It’s still a pretty dismal picture."

Moody's Investors Service downgraded the debt of Chicago Public Schools on the same day district teachers threatened to strike.

The group downgraded CPS's debt from B2 to B3, and called the district's financial condition "precarious" and "acute."  Monday from B2 to B3, Moody's called CPS' financial condition "precarious" and "acute." The new rating is one level above C, which Moody's describes as "speculative (and) of poor standing, and are subject to very high credit risk."

  The University of Illinois has received a relatively glowing financial report from Moody's Investor Service, but it comes with some caveats.  

The firm credits U of I leaders for having bolstered the school's balance sheet. The report says the school's brand and diverse revenue base -- for example, high demand from international students -- add credit stability that's helped to cushion state funding blows.  This includes the current budget impasse, which has resulted in public universities going nearly a year without funding.  

The decision to downgrade DeKalb's bond rating from Aa2 to Aa3 is based in part on the city’s pension liabilities.

According to a news release, this liability is due in part to the city using the lower funding level allowable by the State of Illinois, as well as a change to the Government Accounting Standards Board liability reporting requirement.

Moody’s also cited DeKalb’s declining tax base from 2009 to 2015 as a contribution to the rating but noted a tax-base increase in 2016 of 1.6 percent.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Moody’s Investor Service is out with a warning that the just-passed stopgap spending plan is not enough for Illinois’ public universities.

On Thursday, lawmakers were extolling the measure’s support for higher education. 

Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet highlighted funding of Monetary Award Program – or MAP – grants, for low-income students.

“Pay out the remaining MAP grants from ’16," he said. "It will help our community colleges and also, very importantly, it will invest in adult education to put people back to work in this state.”

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