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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2001

Ryan Announces Fitch Upgrade of Build Illinois Bond Rating

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that Fitch, a national credit rating agency, has upgraded the state's Build Illinois bond rating from AA to AA+.

Fitch's U.S. Public Finance Group rates the debt of state and local governments and their authorities, as well as the taxable debt of not-for-profit issuers. Fitch credit ratings are an opinion on the ability of an entity to meet financial commitments, such as interest, preferred dividends or repayment of principal on a timely basis.

"This upgrade is another sign that the financial community recognizes the strength and diversity of the Illinois economy," Governor Ryan said. "This will allow us to continue to finance the state's capital program as economically as possible."

In announcing the upgrade, Fitch cited "the consistently wide debt service coverage afforded by the sales tax and Illinois' overall strengthened economy and return to fiscal stability evidenced in recent large balances and this year's funding of a reserve account."

"The rating upgrade reflects both the broad pledged revenue with its wide coverage and the strengthened general credit of the state, including the very moderate burden of debt on resources with net tax-supported debt equal to $705 per capita and 2.3 percent of personal income," Fitch said.

The upgrade was issued in conjunction with the sale today of $125 million in Build Illinois bonds. Build Illinois bonds, which are supported by state sales tax revenues, are issued to fund the cost of capital and infrastructure projects, including those in the Governor's Illinois FIRST initiative.



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