Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced that Fitch Ratings has affirmed West Virginia's rating of 'AA+' for general obligation (GO) debt and 'AA' for both West Virginia Economic Development Authority (EDA) and School Building Authority (SBA) debt with an overall stable rating outlook. According to Fitch, West Virginia received this rating due to the "state's focused and disciplined efforts to address its accumulated financial challenges, proactive approach to addressing long-term liabilities, and maintenance of sizable reserve balances."
"This is a direct result of the hard work the State has put forth to keep our financial house in order," Governor Tomblin said. "West Virginia's solid commitment to addressing its financial obligations, such as our retirement systems and other post-employment benefits (OPEB), shows rating agencies that we pay our bills and honor our debts."
This rating affirmation allows West Virginia to borrow money at low interest rates to finance major projects for infrastructure, waste and water projects, and economic development endeavors.
"A stable bond rating is great news for all West Virginians," said Acting Secretary of Revenue Jason Pizatella. "With this rating outlook, we will continue to confront the financial and economic challenges ahead while our state government keeps its promise to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars."
Key rating drivers for Fitch ratings include:
- The state's strong financial management and sound reserve position.
- Efforts to not only fund the actuarially calculated annually required contribution (ARC), but to add assets in excess of the ARC to the pension systems.
- Additional action taken by the legislature to eliminate the remaining OPEB liability.
- Performance through the recessionary years was notably stronger than that of the nation.
In 2011, West Virginia received its third credit rating upgrade in three consecutive years.