State’s Debt Burden among Highest in U.S.

Connecticut has one of the largest debt burdens in the United States relative to personal income, according to a new study by Fitch Ratings.

Fitch’s updated rating system combines each state’s net tax-supported debt with unfunded pension obligations, according to a report the company released this week. 

While the median value for all states measured is 6.9% of personal income, Connecticut is twice as high and ranked fourth in the U.S. at 13.7%. 

Before pensions are added to the calculation, Connecticut is second in the U.S. at 9.3%.

 “States with the highest combined metrics, including Hawaii, Illinois, Connecticut, and Kentucky,” said Fitch, “have seen credit deterioration in recent years reflecting in part their liability burdens.”

A previous study by Moody’s used its own formula but came to the same conclusion—it also placed Connecticut third in the U.S. for debt burden as percentage of personal income.

“First steps have been taken in Connecticut to better control pension and other unfunded liabilities,” said CBIA Economist Pete Gioia. “But obviously these ratings show continued efforts will be needed.”

New Kroll rating

Meanwhile, Connecticut  became the first public-debt issuer to get a grade from Kroll Bond Ratings, with an AA rank assigned to its $14 billion of general-obligation bonds, according to the state treasurer’s office.

The mark is Kroll’s third-highest, matching the level the state receives from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. Moody’s Investors Service rates the state Aa3, fourth-highest. 

For more information, contact CBIA’s Pete Gioia at 860.244.1945 or pete.gioia@cbia.com.

Discussion