CHICAGO -- Moody's Investors Service last week affirmed Minnesota's Aa general obligation rating, citing the state's diverse economic base and conservative deby management.
Moody's affirmed the rating on $1.6 billion of the state's GO debt Friday in anticipation of the sale of $140 million GO bonds tomorrow.
Standard & Poor's Corp. on Thursday revised its outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the state's AA-plus GO rating, citing the state's depleted financial reserves and increased debt pressures. Fitch Investors Service on Thursday affirmed the state's AA-plus rating, saying the state's credit trend is stable.
Moody's said the state's economic base "provides significant taxable resource support for a moderate amount of debt."
However, the rating agency added that the state's anticipated debt financing of maintenance facilities for Northwest Airlines poses "potential credit risks" to the state and "represents a concern."
"We're focusing on the non-traditional nature of the state's financing for Northwest Airlines in the context of the state's sound economy," said George Leung, vice president and managing director of state ratings at Moody's.
The agency pointed out that the state has "evidenced good discipline in managing operations" and that "recession impacts have not been as severe in Minnesota" compared with the rest of the nation.
John Gunyou, the state's finance commissioner, supported the state's involvement with Northwest.
"Obviously, the Northwest deal got a lot of publicity and was not a significant factor in any of the ratings," Mr. Gunyou said.
Last December, the state agreed to issue up to $350 million of GO and lease-revenue bonds for Northwest's use. Up to $175 million of the bonds would carry the state's GO pledge.
The state is delaying its plans to issue the debt until the resolution of a lawsuit filed last year by a taxpayer group.
Proceeds from the $140 million of bonds, which will be sold competitively, will be used to finance capital improvements.