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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns Aaa to South Carolina's $207 million of Series 2021 General Obligation bonds; outlook stable

30 Dec 2020

New York, December 30, 2020 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned Aaa ratings to the State of South Carolina's planned issuance of approximately $207 million of general obligation bonds in eight series. The bonds are scheduled to be priced in a competitive sale on January 13. The outlook is stable.

The planned offerings are divided into separate series according to use of proceeds. The series consist of: $77.335 million General Obligation State Economic Development Refunding Bonds, Series 2021A; $7.32 million General Obligation State Air Carrier Hub Terminal Facilities Refunding Bonds, Series 2021A; $9.085 million General Obligation State Transportation Infrastructure Refunding Bonds, Series 2021A; $30.895 million General Obligation State Institution Bonds (Issued on Behalf of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina), Series 2021A; $15.325 million General Obligation State Institution Bonds (Issued on Behalf of Midlands Technical College), Series 2021B; $11.92 million General Obligation State Institution Refunding Bonds (Issued on Behalf of the University of South Carolina), Series 2021C; $24.045 million General Obligation State Institution Bonds (Issued on Behalf of the Medical University of South Carolina), Series 2021D, and $30.58 million General Obligation State Institution Bonds (Issued on Behalf of Clemson University), Series 2021E.

RATINGS RATIONALE

South Carolina's Aaa rating is supported by conservative financial management practices that allowed the state to substantially augment financial reserves during the last few years, capitalizing on strong economic trends in place before the coronavirus pandemic. The state specifically has benefited from increasingly stringent reserve requirements and from prudent fiscal monitoring practices that put it in a solid position to withstand the coronavirus pandemic's economic dislocations and fiscal disruptions. These strengths offset some long-running social weaknesses, including an elevated poverty rate and comparatively weak personal income per capita, which persist despite the economic and revenue gains of recent years. The state also faces relatively large unfunded pension liabilities, even after recent reform efforts.

The current coronavirus epidemic constitutes a social risk under our ESG framework, given the substantial implications for public health and safety. The longer-term impact will depend on both the severity and duration of the crisis. We do not see any material immediate credit risks for the State of South Carolina at this time, but the situation is rapidly evolving.

RATING OUTLOOK

The state's outlook is stable, supported by our expectation that conservative budgetary practices will sustain fiscal flexibility even in the event of prolonged economic weakness, including from the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OF THE RATINGS

- Not applicable

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO A DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS

- Adoption of less conservative financial management practices, such as one-time measures leading to significant budget imbalance or extended depletion of financial reserves

- Trend of economic performance (reflected in metrics such as GDP or employment growth) weaker than the nation's

- Actions that reduce pension funding commitment in order to provide fiscal relief

LEGAL SECURITY

The bonds are general obligations of the state and are secured by a pledge of the state's full faith, credit and taxing power. Under the South Carolina Constitution, when the state authorizes GO bonds, it must also allocate on an annual basis sufficient tax revenue for timely debt service payment. Certain bonds are additionally secured by other specific state revenue sources. Series of GO bonds designated as "state institution" bonds fund higher education projects and are backed by pledges of tuition fee collections, which are deposited in special funds created at each state university for which such bonds are issued. The Transportation Infrastructure bonds are additionally secured by revenue that the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank derives from two inter-governmental agreements.

USE OF PROCEEDS

Slightly more than half (51%, based on stated par amounts) of the current borrowing will refund outstanding bonds for interest cost savings. New capital funding will be provided by four of the state institution bond series: bonds issued on behalf of The Citadel, Midlands Technical College, the Medical University of South Carolina (A1, stable), and Clemson University (Aa2, stable). In each case, the bonds will fund various capital projects at the institutions, such as building new academic and other mixed-use facilities (at The Citadel and at Midlands Technical), expanding and renovating the Medical University's library and upgrading Clemson University's wastewater treatment plant.

PROFILE

South Carolina's 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $247.5 billion, ranking 26th among states, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. South Carolina's economy has experienced some of the fastest growth of all states in recent years. Its population totaled 5,148,714 in 2019, based on Census Bureau estimates, ranking 23rd among states. Despite a history of strong economic growth, the state's personal income for 2019 remained comparatively low, at $45,438 per capita, or 80% of the US level. South Carolina's geographic area is compact, at 30,000 square miles, ranking 40th among states. It is bordered by North Carolina and, to the west and south, by Georgia.

METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was US States and Territories published in April 2018 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBM_1084466. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

These ratings are solicited. Please refer to Moody's Policy for Designating and Assigning Unsolicited Credit Ratings available on its website www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1243406.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU and is endorsed by Moody's Deutschland GmbH, An der Welle 5, Frankfurt am Main 60322, Germany, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that issued the credit rating is available on www.moodys.com.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Edward Hampton
Lead Analyst
State Ratings
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
7 World Trade Center
250 Greenwich Street
New York 10007
US
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Timothy Blake
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Municipal Supported Products
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

No Related Data.
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