Dan Rutherford Reacts
“As state leaders continue to put off work on necessary pension reform, Moody’s Investors Service has more bad news for Illinois,” said Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Moody’s has downgraded $1.56 billion of debt issued by the University of Illinois, and lowered the ratings on six other state universities including Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University and Governors State University.
“Though these additional downgrades should sound an alarm, I am not sure state leaders will allow themselves to hear it,” explained Treasurer Rutherford. “The Moody’s report states that these universities are being downgraded because they rely heavily on the state of Illinois for finances; and as we should all know by this point, the state’s pension funding crisis is suffocating other essential spending.” Moody’s did note that further inaction on pension reform will continue to add pressure to state operating appropriations.
“Illinois needs to have strong and competitive universities to offer a better future for our children,” said Treasurer Rutherford. “My concern is that this could mean it will cost these universities more to borrow money for residence halls and classroom construction. State leaders need to make financial solvency a top priority right away.”