New Jersey gets 1st credit rating boost in nearly 2 decades
New Jersey's credit score was upgraded for the first time in nearly two decades on Wednesday.
The upgrade means borrowing costs could become more affordable for the state. It's also been a longtime goal of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.
Moody’s Investor Service said the state’s rating was upgraded to A2 from A3, saying the decision “incorporates the state’s continuing trends of strong revenue and liquidity and its steps to more aggressively address liability burdens."
Under Murphy's current fiscal year budget — a record $46.4 billion — he and lawmakers boosted the public pension payment by 44% over the previous year's contribution to $6.9 billion. It was the first time in a quarter century the state made the full pension contribution. The ramp-up began under Murphy's predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who was in charge when the state's credit was downgraded several times following the Great Recession.
The 11 downgrades under Christie spanned the three major different credit rating agencies and occurred from 2011 through 2017. There were also two downgrades under Murphy's watch, both in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Jersey’s credit was last upgraded in 2005, according to a tally kept by the governor’s office.
“Our efforts to build New Jersey’s credit rating back up from decades of downgrades have yielded another positive result. This proves that facing our challenges head on — rather than delaying and deferring — is the best way to get our house in order,” Murphy said in a statement.