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California's bond rating raised to 'A' by Standard & Poor's

January 31, 2013|By Marc Lifsher
  • State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said California's improved bond rating represents "a tough climb out of the hole."
State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said California's improved bond rating… (Armando Arorizo / Bloomberg )

SACRAMENTO -- A top bond-rating agency has raised its assessment of more than $80 billion worth of California's debt, saying "the upgrades reflect our view of California's improved fiscal condition."

Standard & Poor's on Thursday hiked its evaluation of California's long-term debt one notch from "A minus" to "A."

S&P analyst Gabriel Petek said the new rating follows Gov. Jerry Brown's recently proposed balanced budget as well as spending cuts and voter approval last November of a $6-billion tax increase.

The California upgrade is the first by S&P since May 2006, before the severe recession of 2007-09, the state treasurer's office said.

The new rating is a reward for the California's s effort to make "a tough climb out of the hole," said state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. He credited Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators for making "decisions that have been tough and painful but correct."

The higher rating should benefit California taxpayers by lowering the state's borrowing costs when it sells bonds this spring, said Lockyer spokesman Tom Dresslar.

While S&P cited California for improvements in its finances, the full analysis showed that the state has a long ways to go before it regains the top "AAA" rating it last enjoyed in 1986.

The state's new rating is the second-to-the-worst among the 50 states, ahead of only Illinois.

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