Despite offering some criticism of the state’s finances, Moody’s Investor Services recently upgraded Florida’s credit rating to AAA–which is music to the state CFO’s ears.
But Moody’s notes some concerns that could lead to a downgrade in Florida’s economy, including potential storm related costs, high climate risks and the role of state backed Citizens Property Insurance.
Moody’s finds “though over the past decade the state-run property insurance company has reduced their insurance-in-force exposure by two-thirds while both the property and reinsurance entities have increased their claims-paying resources. These entities still represent a risk of unanticipated state-related bond issuance.”
Another area that could lead to a “downgrade” is the aging population in the Sunshine State.
Mostly, the report finds things are on the upswing in Florida. Even certain revenue streams –such as special tax bonds the state has– “have a stable outlook.”
One person excited by the news was state CFO Jimmy Patronis.
“Ten billion dollars of Florida state debt has been paid down,” he told Florida Daily. “As Florida continues to pay off debt, the strong bond rating will strengthen our economy while helping save taxpayers money in future state interest payments.”
Politically, the reports timing could bode well for Gov. Rick Scott who is challenging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Patronis who was appointed to the job last year when then CFO Jeff Atwater resigned.
Speaking to a crowd in Jacksonville this week, Patronis was asked about how Scott and his predecessor Gov. Charlie Crist handled the state debt
“The difference is like night and day,” Patronis insisted.
Patronis said Scott’s business-like approach to Florida’s economy helped turned the state into a thriving economic force. During Crist’s four years as governor, Patronis served in the Florida House. Crist left the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation. After losing that race, he joined the Democrats in 2012 and challenged Scott in 2014, losing by a narrow margin.
Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.