As Illinois lawmakers try to pass a state budget by Thursday, credit rating agencies say they’re less focused on the timing of a spending plan than they were a year ago.
Last summer’s threat of a “junk” credit rating seemed to be just the push several legislators needed to adopt a full budget for the first time in years.
Today, those same agencies are not offering a similar threat, saying the situation is not as critical.
Gabe Petek, one of the top state government analysts at S&P Global Ratings, says his firm is not focused on the traditional May 31 deadline.
“We’re not even necessarily focused on the July 1st as a drop-dead deadline," Petek says. "It’s more a matter of what is in the budget that we’re focused on, as opposed to the precise timing of it."
That means they'll be assessing whether the budget begins to address Illinois' long-term financial challenges.
That said, Petek doesn't want to be seen as granting “dispensation for adopting late budgets.”
“It’s just that when you look at the situation this year when compared with last year at this time, they were facing a $7 billion budgetary deficit," Petek says. This year that figure is significantly lower.