WASHINGTON -- Standard & Poor's Corp. yesterday affirmed its AAA rating on Virginia's general obligation debt and revised its rating outlook to stable from negative.
"We are quite pleased," said state Treasurer Eddie N. Moore Jr. "That was the goal we set for this year's ratings agency presentation," he added, referring to the desire by state officials to have Standard & Poor's reassess its rating outlook.
The move, which should help the state continue to borrow at the lowest possible rates, comes a week before state voters decide whether Virginia should issue $613 million of GO bonds to fund projects in education, mental health, and parks and recreation.
In three ballot questions, voters are being asked to approve $472.4 million of bonds for education projects, $45.2 million of bonds for mental health facilities, and $95.4 million of bonds for improvements at state parks.
Moore said that the Standard & Poor's action appears to be a reaffirmation of the determination by state officials that the $613 million of bonds would not hurt the state's credit rating.
In February 1991, Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on Virginia's credit rating to negative from stable. The rating agency cited a large and persistent general fund revenue shortfall.
Yesterday, Standard & Poor's said it restored the outlook to stable because of "the actions taken by the commonwealth to correct the revenue/expenditure imbalance."
"They've managed well and have come out of it," said Parry Young, a Standard & Poor's director.
In a release announcing the rating action, Standard & Poor's said affirmation of the state's AAA reflects Virginia's diversified economy, low debt burden, and strong financial management.
The agency noted that Virginia faces continued uncertainties because of defense-related cutbacks, but added that state officials have shown the "ability and willingness to adjust financial planning and budgeting to reflect more moderate growth trends."
Virginia finished fiscal 1992 on June 30 with a general fund revenues surplus of $47.9 million. Revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 1993 came in 0.3% above state projections.