Utah State Treasurer
David Damschen

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Utah maintains AAA credit rating from all major rating agencies, saves taxpayer dollars

Posted on: January 24th, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY – January 24, 2018 – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Treasurer David
Damschen today announced that S&P Global, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have
reaffirmed the State’s AAA credit rating – the highest rating a state can receive.

“I am proud that Utah is once again among only a handful of states to receive a AAA rating by
all three rating agencies. This impressive accomplishment and Utah’s broad economic success
can be largely credited to our conservative approach to budgeting, debt management and other
financial policies,” Gov. Herbert said. “In Utah, we are thorough and collaborative in our fiscal
management, and I applaud the Utah team for this collective achievement.”

Agencies base their ratings on a range of financial, economic, managerial and institutional
factors. Utah’s history of continuous AAA bond ratings dates back to 1965, when S&P initiated
its rating system. The State’s AAA rating with Moody’s commenced in 1973 and with Fitch
Ratings in 1992.

“Maintaining the highest credit ratings saves Utah taxpayer dollars by allowing us to finance
large projects at the lowest interest rates available. High ratings also signal to investors that the
State can and will meet its financial obligations to pay both interest and principal,” Treasurer
Damschen said. “These ratings are indicative of good financial management practices and a
strong economy.”

As cited in the rating reports, the agencies’ rationales for Utah’s ratings include:

  • A diverse and rapidly growing economy, with a young, well-educated workforce, job
    growth across most major sectors and an unemployment rate that is among the lowest of
    the 50 states.
  • Strong growth in Utah’s broad-based revenues, reflecting the breadth of the economy
    and its strong growth potential.
  • Continued good financial management and structurally balanced financial operations,
    including proactive budget adjustments to maintain adequate rainy-day reserves,
    conservative estimates of revenue growth and ample liquidity with no need to access
    external markets for cash flow.
  • A conservative approach to debt, which is closely managed through both constitutional
    and statutory formula.
  • Low and quickly amortizing debt, despite the demands of population growth. Combined
    tax-supported debt per capita of $808, or 1.6% of state GDP and 2.0% of total personal
    income.
  • Low long-term liabilities, with the combined burden of net tax-supported debt and
    unfunded pension liabilities equal to 3.9% of personal income, compared to the 6%
    median for U.S. states.
  • A strong governmental framework, with a constitutional requirement to maintain a
    balanced budget and a fiscal policy that allows for changes to the revenue structure and
    program spending by a simple majority of the legislature.
  • A demonstrated ability to take prompt action to maintain budgetary balance as well as to
    restore fiscal flexibility during growth periods, while managing pressures associated
    with a growing population.

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