From Mark Magyar at NJ Spotlight:
For the third time in three weeks, Wall Street gave a thumbs down to New Jersey’s fiscal management, as Fitch Ratings yesterday followed Standard and Poor’s in downgrading the state’s credit rating to single-A status — higher than only Illinois and California.
Fitch’s decision to downgrade New Jersey’s bond rating echoed S&P’s April 9 announcement in its criticism of the state’s growing pension and retiree healthcare liabilities, high levels of debt, overly optimistic revenue estimates, and reliance on one-shot gimmicks that add to future budget problems…
Furthermore, Fitch’s noted that the “belated” discovery of the new budget gap leaves Gov. Chris Christie and the Democratic-controlled Legislature with few options to fill the deficit by the June 30 end of the fiscal year: School aid, municipal aid, and homestead rebates are already paid out. Tax increases could not be implemented quickly enough — even if Christie had not taken a “no new taxes” pledge — nor could layoffs. That leaves the $1.558 billion pension payment the state is scheduled to make in late June as the only large expenditure that could be reduced or pushed off into the next fiscal year