Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (5/6)
May 6, 2022
May 6, 2022
Illinois sees sixth bond ratings boost in less than a year following back-to-back upgrades from Fitch, S&P
Illinois saw two-notch bond ratings upgrades from S&P and Fitch Ratings this week – meaning the state has now received a total of six upgrades in less than a year.
Fitch Ratings lifted Illinois’ general obligation bond rating two notches to BBB+ on Thursday; today, S&P matched Fitch, assigning Illinois a BBB+ rating.
“The upgrade to ‘BBB+’ reflects fundamental improvements in Illinois’ fiscal resilience including full unwinding of pandemic-era and certain pre-pandemic non-recurring fiscal measures, meaningful contributions to reserves and sustained evidence of more normal fiscal decision-making,” the Fitch Ratings release stated, noting a steady reduction in accounts payable and retirement of many of the state’s lingering debts.
Between 2015 and 2017, the State of Illinois suffered eight credit rating downgrades and sat at the top of many analysts’ lists of the worst managed states in the nation. At its worst, Illinois’ bill backlog hit nearly $17 billion.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week announced her administration has selected Bally’s Corporation to be the city’s casino operator.
If approved by Chicago City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board, Bally’s will build a $1.74 billion entertainment complex featuring a 3,400-slot casino, a 500-room hotel, six restaurants, three bars, and a 3,000-seat theater.
Bally’s predicts it could open a temporary site at the Medinah Temple in Chicago’s River North neighborhood by the second quarter of 2023 and a permanent one in the first quarter of 2026.
A city-sponsored report estimates Chicago will see $200 million in annual revenue from the casino once fully operational. Much of that funding is earmarked for the city’s underfunded police and fire pensions.
Bally’s beat out two other finalists: one from Hard Rock to build a casino just west of Soldier Field, and another from Rivers, which would have built a casino in the South Loop.
Read the full update here.
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