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Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
August 18, 2017

Tough Decisions Paying Off: Moody's Upgrades Wisconsin

The Moody’s Corporation recently upgraded the state of Wisconsin’s General Obligation rating to Aa1 for the first time since 1973. This is really big news that has been lost in the shuffle as we talk about other issues facing our state government. The upgrade to our debt-rating is very good news for Wisconsin as we look toward the future and evaluate decisions we have made in the past.
A debt rating tells investors how much risk they take when they invest in Wisconsin. According to the announcement from Moody’s, “the upgrade to Aa1 reflects the proven fiscal benefits of the state’s approach to granting and funding pension obligations when many other states are experiencing stress from rising costs and heavy liabilities; an economy that delivers steady but moderate growth; conservatively managed budgets; and adequate liquidity.”
The decisions we have made, as a state, have encouraged this debt-rating company to upgrade our rating to advise investors that investing in Wisconsin is a good decision. In the midst of an ongoing budget discussion and the Foxconn deliberations, Moody’s predicts that Wisconsin’s financial outlook is improving and will be a smart investment into the future.
Our approach to budgeting and funding obligations have contributed to this debt upgrade. As a legislature, we have conservatively managed our state’s fiscal resources. It has not always been easy to make tough decisions. It is not comfortable to say “no”.
But a debt upgrade means that our state can seek investment with better interest rates. It also makes us competitive with other states and investors will be more apt to take a risk on financing our programs and projects. All of the factors that contribute to a debt rating upgrade also contribute to a company’s decision to locate in Wisconsin and whether existing Wisconsin companies are comfortable with our financial future to stay, grow and invest in our state. There is a stark contrast between the direction that Wisconsin is going versus some of our neighbors. Can you say Illinois?
While this announcement may not have garnered the attention of other flashy news, it is good news nonetheless. I am proud of the reforms and hard work we have done in the legislature. These are the kind of results that rarely make headlines, but make a big difference for our long-term financial outlook.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov.  Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.