South Carolina has one of the highest credit ratings in the country according to a release from the State Treasurer’s Office. Three separate credit rating agencies rated the state with very high marks. Citing the state’s low debt levels and fiscal prudence, Standard and Poor, Moody’s and Fitch ranked South Carolina in the top nine nationally. Deputy State Treasurer Scott Malyerck says that though the credit rating is currently very strong, some issues will need to be rectified to maintain it.
“There were some warnings by the rating agencies and they are; very high unemployment in South Carolina, low personal wealth and income of our citizens, and there has been a drop in revenue and job recruitment into South Carolina,” says Maylerck. “So, those are the things that have to be addressed in a comprehensive way or those areas will continue to decline (and) we are in jeopardy of losing our good credit rating.”
According to Malyerk, the State Treasurer does not agree with the stimulus package, but since Congress has passed it, paying down state debt is not the best way to use those funds. He says, “90 percent of our debt, of our total debt in the state, will be paid off in ten years, 50 percent in five years. Coupled with the credit ratings assessment–reassessment–of our financial conditioning and their continued high ratings, that debt is not our problem. Unemployment, low wealth and income of our citizens and lack of good high paying jobs…those are the problems we need to address.”
He went on to say using federal money to pay down South Carolina’s debt does not make sense. “First of all, the Treasurer thinks the stimulus package was ill-conceived and advised,” Malyerk pointed out.
“However, now that the state is going to except it and Congress has passed it, we’ve got to deal with it. The stimulus money is there to do just that–to immediately stimulate our economy, keep people working, keep jobs in South Carolina–this money comes from taxes and the federal government and to ask tax payers in New Hampshire or Nevada to pay down our debt with stimulus money is sort of absurd.”