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California’s Credit Rating Improves … Slightly

Aired 1/12/12 on KPBS News.

A top credit-rating firm says California is no longer last among states.

One of the nation's top credit rating firms says California no longer has the worst credit rating for a state. But the change did NOT happen because California's fiscal outlook got better.

Moody's Investors Service said California's credit rating is no longer at the bottom of the pile. The state has had the worst state credit rating since 2009.

Illiniois was singled out for a lack of legislative action on crushing pension-debt issues and chronic bill-payment delays. The credit rating service lowered that state's rating to A2. That's just below California's A1 rating. Tom Dresslar is a spokesman in the California State Treasurer's office. He said California lawmakers made progress last year, and that's being recognized.

"When they adopted the budget last year, that budget made substantial progress in reducing the structural deficit," he said. "And it also got us on the path to paying down the so called 'wall of debt.' "

But California still has the worst state rating from the other two major credit agencies. Both Fitch and Standard & Poor's give the state an A-minus rating. S&P did raise California's outlook from negative to stable after lawmakers passed an on-time budget.

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