Fitch delivers New Jersey’s third major credit rating upgrade this year

New Jersey on Monday received its third credit rating upgrade this year, to A from A-, according to a release from Fitch Ratings, giving the state a “positive” outlook with S&P, Fitch and KBRA.

This is the first time Fitch has upgraded New Jersey since it started rating the state in 1992.

Gov. Phil Murphy and state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio praised the decision by Fitch.

“We’ve made remarkable strides to get our fiscal house in order, from making our full pension payments two years in a row to building a strong, reliable surplus that will help our state weather potential storms,”  Murphy stated. “There’s no doubt our fiscal position is far stronger than the situation we inherited, and we’re committed to continuing on this path to a more resilient, affordable New Jersey.”

In making their decision today, Fitch noted that, “…The strong fiscal momentum of recent years and consistent policy actions to confront (New Jersey’s) long-term fiscal and liability challenges reflect a notable improvement in budget management.”

The agency cited the state’s efforts to prioritize building a sizable fiscal cushion amid robust revenue collections in recent years, while simultaneously addressing debt and pension liabilities.

“Today, New Jersey finds itself on more solid fiscal footing than we were before the COVID-19 pandemic and many years prior,” Muoio stated. “We took advantage of our state’s solid economic recovery to invest in New Jersey’s future, including paying down debt and fulfilling our obligations. We’re proud of this progress, as evidenced by upgrades from three of the major rating agencies.”

Fitch also upgraded the following ratings linked to or capped by the state’s Issuer Default Rating:

  • Approximately $5.5 billion general obligation bonds to A;
  • Approximately $484 million Garden State Preservation Trust revenue bonds to A;
  • The state’s qualified bond program and school bond credit enhancement program (Chapter 72) ratings to A-;
  • Approximately $30.7 billion appropriation obligations issued by state authorities and linked to the state’s IDR to A-.