TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Roads, school construction, and restoring the Everglades are just a few of the massive projects that the state borrows massive amounts of cash to finance.
To date the state owes 23 billion dollars but efforts to refinance those loans are underway. That's because Florida's credit rating was upgraded to AAA status.
S&P upgraded Florida in July. Since then Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater says the state has refinanced 1.5 billion dollars in bonds, saving 135 million dollars. "We went through got lower price, because a AAA bond rating can give us that. In this marketplace, there aren't too many of us out there with that rating."
Florida's improved rating comes as the federal government credit rating is declining. And while Congress was arguing over the debt ceiling, Governor Rick Scott was talking to the rating agency about why he thinks Florida is a good investment. "I spoke to them over the phone, and I talked about the fact that we are going to be the most fiscally responsible state and conservative state in the country."
And now that the state has the top rating, governor Scott plans to use it to attract businesses. "I think the fact that we have now the AAA rating, the fact we have been taken off of credit watch is a positive for business people."
State budget cuts and tax reductions helped Scott convince S&P to upgrade Florida; The governor is using the same pitch on out-of-state businesses hoping they'll also consider Florida a safe bet.
While Scott's budget moves helped improve the state's rating… the reduction in property taxes is hurting some of Florida's water management districts. The South Florida Water Management District's credit rating was downgraded because of layoffs that resulted from state budget cuts.