By Todd Wineburner with Dave Dahl and Nick Gale
Standard and Poor’s has once again downgraded the state’s credit rating, and state officials reacted after the announcement became official. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford continued to blame the state’s leadership for the fiscal woes, saying that the General Assembly made a major mistake when they raised the state’s income tax without imposing requirements for using that money to address the state’s most pressing fiscal issues: debt relief, paying unpaid bills, and correcting the state’s pension liability. Given the inaction, Rutherford says credit downgrades are inevitable because the state is not a good credit risk.
For his part, Governor Pat Quinn says public pension reform is driving the state’s continued credit descent. Quinn says a bill sponsored by State Senator John Cullerton could be the answer to pension reform. Quinn describes the bill as a “very good vehicle” for correcting the huge economic shadow cast on the state by its pension liability. Quinn agrees with Rutherford that the state’s poor financial rating, which is currently the worst in the country, won’t improve until pensions are addressed.