KBRA becomes 4th credit agency to give N.J. upgrade in 2023

On Monday, Kroll Bond Rating Agency became the fourth agency to upgrade the state’s credit rating, boosting the state to “A+” from “A.”

And while KBRA may not be as well-known as the big three, anytime a global agency gives the state an upgrade, New Jersey officials are eager to tout it.

“This upgrade from KBRA makes it a grand slam for New Jersey’s bond rating and is proof positive that our efforts to budget responsibly have paid off,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.  “A lot of hard work has gone into this series of upgrades, and we are well-prepared to weather any storms.”

The move by KBRA follows similar upgrades from Moody’s Investors Service, S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings, each of which upped the rating on the state’s general obligation bonds in April. The three also gave the state an upgrade in 2022.

Of the four agencies, KBRA’s upgrade may be the most impressive: It is the first upgrade it has given the state’s rating since beginning coverage in 2015. In its report on the upgrade, KBRA cited the proposed record surplus and three full pension payments in as many years.

“The current administration has placed a high priority on improving the state’s overall fiscal health, and current reserve levels provide a large cushion to manage future budgetary challenges,” KBRA said in its report.

Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio was thrilled by the upgrade.

“The latest upgrade is further recognition that the work we have put into responsible budgeting, including record pension payments and an unprecedented level of surplus, has been noticed, and we’re gratified that the rating agencies have acknowledged these actions,” she said.