Ohio wins ‘triple-A Triple Crown’

Bonds

Ohio for the first time can boast of a trifecta of triple-A ratings after S&P Global Ratings on Friday gave top marks to the state’s issuer and general obligation ratings.

“The upgrades reflect our view of Ohio’s demonstrated commitment to active budget management and building and maintaining reserves through economic cycles,” said S&P analyst Rob Marker in a statement. “The upgrades also reflect the frequent and significant state-supported economic diversification efforts, which have resulted in positive business development and expansion across the state’s traditionally heavy manufacturing base.”

In addition to boosting the state’s issuer rating to triple-A, S&P also raised its long-term rating on the state’s general obligation bonds to triple-A from AA-plus, and lifted its tax credit bonds, issued by the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority, to AA from AA-minus and the state’s lease-appropriation debt to AA-plus from AA.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, pictured here in 2018, called the spate of upgrades that have led to triple-A ratings from all three major ratings agencies a “remarkable financial milestone.”

Bloomberg News

Moody’s upgraded the state last Friday. Fitch Ratings upgraded the state in September, 2022. Kroll Bond Rating Agency pegs the state’s GO highway improvement bonds triple-A. All the ratings agencies have a stable outlook.

The upgrade comes ahead of a $391 million GO borrowing set to price the week of Dec. 12. Loop Capital Markets is senior manager and PFM Financial Advisors LLC is financial advisor.

“Achieving this rating from not just one, but all three major credit agencies is historic,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a statement Friday. “This remarkable financial milestone underscores that Ohio is at the forefront of financial excellence and economic innovation. Our strategies are yielding tangible benefits, making Ohio a prime destination for businesses and families.”

Ohio Office of Budget and Management Director Kimberly Murnieks called the trio of top ratings the “triple-A Triple Crown,” and said “all Ohioans will benefit from the cost savings” from the upgrades.

S&P credited JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation, as a catalyst for growth over the last several years, with the state landing large investments in advanced manufacturing, data centers, life sciences and medical innovation, energy, and others.

“The stable outlook reflects our expectation that Ohio will continue its commitment to active budget management and reducing its pension and OPEB liabilities over time while also adhering to its longstanding 5% constitutional debt service limit, which both support a predictable fixed-cost profile and our view of the state’s long-term credit stability,” S&P said.

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