Tuesday, January 17, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Fallin will lead an Oklahoma delegation to New York City on Thursday, Jan. 19, to discuss the possibility of improving the state’s bond ratings. Joining the governor will be state Treasurer Ken Miller, Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of State Finance and secretary of finance in the governor’s cabinet, and State Bond Advisor Jim Joseph.
The group will meet with officials from the leading bond rating agencies, including Standard and Poor’s Corporation, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investor Services. The agencies issue ratings which are used by investors as an indicator of the worthiness of a government’s debt and its borrowing capacity. The ratings influence the terms and rates of state-held bonds.
“Our meeting with bond advisors gives us a great opportunity to showcase Oklahoma’s strong economy and fiscally sound policies,” Fallin said. “Unlike the federal government, Oklahoma has balanced its budget and continues to make state agencies smaller, smarter and more efficient.”
“AAA” is the highest bond credit rating that Standard and Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s issue for government bonds. Currently, both Standard and Poor’s and Fitch give Oklahoma an “AA+” rating, the second-highest rating. Moody’s gives Oklahoma an “AA2” rating, the agency’s third-highest rating.
“Meeting with ratings agencies will give us a great chance to make the case for better bond ratings, which could lower costs when the state issues bonds,” Fallin said. “Increasing the state’s bond rating also will be a great signal that Oklahoma is a great place to invest and will help as we work to bring more jobs and opportunities to the state.”
Miller said that it is important to share the news of Oklahoma’s strong economy with ratings agencies.
“Even though we were upgraded to our highest rating ever a few years back, Oklahoma has made great strides since then,” said Miller. “We are climbing the list of economic indicators in a big way and it’s important we communicate to the rating agencies our recent successes as well as our plans to craft an even stronger Oklahoma going forward.”
Doerflinger agreed, highlighting the state’s strong revenue figures and efforts to modernize state government.
Doerflinger said, “We think we can make a strong case for maintaining and hopefully increasing our current strong bond ratings. We have made a robust recovery from the recession and have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. We are experiencing double-digit growth in state revenues and our Rainy Day Fund will probably exceed $500 million this year after being depleted during the recession. We also are in the process of a government modernization effort that will save taxpayer funds and have taken significant steps to reduce the liabilities of our retirement systems.”
The delegation will depart Thursday and return Friday afternoon to Oklahoma.