Sen. Linda Holmes

AURORA — Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) was pleased to see that Fitch Ratings – one of the three major credit rating agencies for state governments and other large borrowers – has upgraded Illinois’ outlook from negative to positive.

“Fitch’s decision to change its outlook on Illinois is a sign that we have been making responsible budget decisions,” Holmes said. “Despite the pandemic, we’ve made positive progress on reducing unnecessary spending and cutting down our bill backlog, and the ratings agencies have taken notice.”

In its decision, Fitch cited that the state chose to fully pay back federal borrowing for expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that late payment penalties on the state’s backlog of unpaid bills have dropped by nearly 80% since 2017, and that the state has actually cut general fund spending by approximately $1 billion since fiscal year 2020.

Fitch is the last of the three major credit rating agencies to change Illinois’ outlook. The other two – Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Rating – moved Illinois’ outlook to stable last year.

In the most recent budget, the state increased education funding by $350 million, made its full pension payment, and fully funded local governments.

“If we keep passing responsible, balanced budgets, we’ll earn ratings upgrades and save the taxpayers money,” Holmes said. “The better our rating, the less we have to pay in interest costs when the state borrows money.”

The state’s new fiscal year begins July 1.