LAKE COUNTY, Ill. – For the first time since 1998, Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Illinois’ bond rating, potentially saving taxpayers millions of dollars, and State Senators Adriane Johnson and Julie Morrison say the improvement signals a stronger financial future for the state and its residents.

Moodys“Illinois has seen unprecedented hardship over the past year, but thanks to responsible budgeting and careful financial planning, we are seeing positive returns,” said Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove). “For the first time in a long time, we are heading in the right direction.”

The upgrade is the first Moody’s has issued to Illinois since June 1998, and the second positive rating action for the state in a week, following an outlook improvement from Fitch.

Moody’s upgrade credited “material improvements,” with only “constrained use of federal aid,” including increased pension payments, repayment of federal borrowing and responsible maintenance of the bill backlog.

Illinois’ ratings on General Obligation bonds, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, and Build Illinois bonds were each upgraded and are now a step closer to the top rating.

The rating of a state’s bonds is a measure of their credit quality. A higher bond rating generally means the state can borrow at a lower interest rate, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

“The work we’ve done to pass a responsible, balanced budget while continuing to prioritize the needs Illinoisans faced during the pandemic shows we’re on a path toward a brighter future,” said Morrison (D-Lake Forest). “From repaying our emergency Federal Reserve borrowings ahead of schedule, to limiting the use of aid from the American Rescue Plan, we are back on the right track.”

The General Assembly has crafted two balanced budgets during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year pays down state debts, fully funds pensions and keeps Illinois current on bill payments, significantly reducing the state’s structural budget deficit.