Moody’s -- one of the country’s largest credit ratings agencies -- says South Carolina’s $6.7 billion general fund budget is a “credit positive” for local governments.
The budget includes an additional $30 million for local governments -- a 16 percent increase -- and an extra $152 million for school districts. Moody’s also cited the $300 million for the deepening of the Port of Charleston, a project Moody’s said it expects to “continue to bring business to South Carolina and maintain employment levels and economic activity at the port.”
The news itself has no effect on current credit ratings for South Carolina’s cities and counties. But it is a mark in their favor once their ratings come up for review. One county that could benefit is Orangeburg. Their portion of the local government fund has been cut by $2 million, which county officials said forced them to raid the county’s reserve accounts. In February, Moody’s and S&P, another credit ratings agency, downgraded Orangeburg’s bond rating -- meaning it would be more expensive to borrow money in the future.
South Carolina’s $6.7 billion general fund budget is part of an overall budget of $23 billion, including federal money and “other funds” -- including things like fines and fees and college tuition payments at state universities.
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Moody’s also listed South Carolina’s changes to its retirement system -- which actuaries estimate will cut $2 billion form the state’s retirement fund shortfall -- as a “credit positive” for South Carolina’s credit rating. Moody’s rates South Carolina as “AAA stable,” the highest rating available.