The organization compared the interest rates Illinois is paying, due to its current low credit ratings, with rates paid by other state governments with the higher credit ratings the Land of Lincoln had in December 2008. This comparison shows Illinois is paying over $500 million more than it would have if Illinois had not been downgraded, with $300 million of that higher total coming due in the next five years.
Illinois’ credit rating is now tied with California for the lowest in the nation according to Moody’s, and eight of the total 17 downgrades in Illinois’ history occurred during the past 18 months. The Civic Federation notes that these downgrades were triggered by our high pension debt, large bill backlog and other budget factors.
The study covered the $9.6 billion in bonds that Illinois sold from September 2009 through the most recent bond sales in July 2010, including the $3.5 billion in pension bonds sold in January 2010. In the first six months of calendar 2010, Illinois sold more bonds than any other state, according to the Bond Buyer.
CORRECTIONS DIRECTOR RESIGNS
Following a firestorm of controversy surrounding Governor Pat Quinn’s early-release prison program, the Governor’s office announced the upcoming resignation of Corrections Director Michael Randle.
This move comes less than a week after a Chicago legislative meeting of the Illinois Joint Investigatory Panel on Early Release that examined the controversial program in Illinois, including one initiative established by the current Administration that allowed the release of nearly 2,000 prisoners, including violent offenders.
The early-release programs were the subject of a highly critical report from retired Judge David Erickson released August 13, two days after the first Panel meeting in Peoria. That report concluded that Governor Quinn’s Department of Corrections failed to adequately protect public safety.