A new chart from the Pew Center, at pewstates.org, shows every state’s current Standard & Poor’s (S&P) credit rating and history, going back to 2001.
States sell general obligation bonds to investors to pay for roads, schools, parks and other public projects.
Private, independent credit rating agencies, including Standard & Poor’s, evaluate states’ financial health to determine their ability to repay the bonds and interest.
They assign a rating to the bonds; the higher the grade, the lower the borrowing cost to taxpayers.
The S&P’s highest rating is AAA, while the lowest is BBB, which is junk bond status.
The states with the best credit ratings include: Maryland, Delaware Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah and Virginia.
Unsurprisingly, California, with its debt of $21 billion, comes in at the bottom, with a credit rating of A-.