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Rating Action:

Moody's revises Minnesota's outlook to stable; assigns Aa1 to G.O. bonds Series 2013A, B, and C

Global Credit Research - 30 Jul 2013

Aa1 on $5.7 billion of GO debt affirmed

New York, July 30, 2013 --

Moody's Rating

Issue: General Obligation State Various Purpose Bonds, Series 2013A; Rating: Aa1; Sale Amount: $265,205,000; Expected Sale Date: 8/6/2013; Rating Description: General Obligation

Issue: General Obligation State Trunk Highway Bonds, Series 2013B; Rating: Aa1; Sale Amount:$200,000,000; Expected Sale Date: 8/6/2013; Rating Description: General Obligation

Issue: General Obligation Taxable State Bonds, Series 2013C; Rating: Aa1; Sale Amount:$5,000,000; Expected Sale Date: 8/6/2013; Rating Description: General Obligation

Opinion

Moody's Investors Service has revised the outlook on the State of Minnesota's general obligation bonds to stable from negative and assigned a Aa1 rating to: $265.2 million Various Purpose G.O. Bonds, Series 2013A; $200 million State Trunk Highway G.O. Bonds, Series 2013B; and $5 million Taxable G.O. Bonds, Series 2013C. Concurrently, Moody's has affirmed the Aa1 rating on the state's general obligation bonds (approximately $5.7 billion outstanding); the Aa2 rating on the Minnesota School District Credit Enhancement Program (approximately $15 billion outstanding); the Aa2 rating on Minnesota City and County Credit Enhancement Program (approximately $687 million outstanding); and the Aa2 rating assigned to various appropriation credits (approximately $1.1 billion outstanding ).

The state plans to sell the three series of bonds on August 6. Proceeds of the various purpose general obligation bonds will be used to fund various statewide capital projects. The state trunk highway general obligation bonds will be used for transportation related construction projects. The taxable bonds will finance the state's rural finance authority's program.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

Minnesota's rating outlook has been revised to stable reflecting the state's strong financial management that has resulted in improved revenue performance, replenishment of budget reserves, and budget balancing solutions that are largely recurring. Moody's expects that the state will continue to exhibit sound financial practices that will lead to further improvement in the state's overall balance sheet.

The Aa1 general obligation rating incorporates Minnesota's sound management tools such as its forecasting process, manageable debt load and executive's unallotment authority. Revenue trends are positive, supported by the state's fundamentally diverse and stable economy which is expected to out-perform the nation over the long term, despite a slow national recovery.

The Aa2 rating on the Minnesota Credit Enhancement Program reflects the subject to appropriation nature of the guaranty. Under the Minnesota Credit Enhancement Program, qualified bonds are secured by the state's pledge of an unlimited appropriation from its General Fund should a city or county be unable to meet debt service requirements. The appropriation mechanism allows for advances from the state's General Fund to avert default on a qualified series of bonds for a city or county participating in the program. City or county repayment is either from the state aid withholding or from a property tax levy. Similar to the Credit Enhancement Program, under the Minnesota School District Enhancement loan program, established and designed by the State of Minnesota, bonds are secured by the state's pledge of an unlimited appropriation from its General Fund should a district be unable to meet debt service requirements. Due to the appropriation risk and the essentiality of the program, the enhancement program is rated one notch below the state's general obligation rating. The appropriation mechanism allows for advances from the state's General Fund to avert default for qualified school districts.

The Aa2 rating on the various lease appropriation and certificates of participation also reflects the limited subject-to-appropriation nature of the debt repayment .

CREDIT STRENGTHS

* Strong economic fundamentals, including relatively diverse employment mix and high wealth

* Economic and Revenue forecasting incorporating multi-year revenue and expenditure projections

* Rebuilding of budget reserves to statutory maximum

*Satisfactory liquidity

*Executive authority to enact mid-year expenditure reductions

CREDIT CHALLENGES

* Negative fiscal 2012 GAAP fund balance

* A history of gridlock in the state that leads to the use of mostly non-recurring solutions when confronting diminishing revenues

* Trend of political intractability resulting in late budgets and government shutdowns (2005 and 2011)

Outlook

Minnesota's rating outlook is stable reflecting the improved revenue and economic trends in the state, resulting in an improved reserve position, and budget balancing solutions that are largely recurring. Moody's expects that the state will continue to exhibit sound financial practices that will continue to lead to further improvement in the states overall balance sheet.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO UP

*Institutionalized change to reverse the trend of gridlock in the state that leads to the use of mostly non-recurring solutions when confronting diminishing revenues

*Sustained trend of structural budget balance

* Maintenance of healthy reserves and general fund balance.

WHAT COULD MAKE THE RATING GO DOWN

* Return to a reliance on one-time solutions to solve recurring budget shortfalls

* Return to political intractability which prohibits the state from making budgetary decisions

* A fundamental negative change in the state's economy compared to the nation

* Significantly strained liquidity

* Growing negative GAAP fund balances

RATING METHODOLOGIES

The principal methodology used in this rating was US States Rating Methodology published in April 2013. An additional methodology used in rating the certificates of participation and lease appropriation debt was the Fundamentals of Credit Analysis for Lease-Backed Municipal Obligations published in December 2011. An additional methodology used for the Minnesota Credit Enhancement Program and Minnesota School District Enhancement Program ratings was State Aid Intercept Programs and Financings: Pre and Post Default published in July 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt 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 rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular 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.

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

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.

Kimberly Lyons
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Public Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Emily Raimes
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Public Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

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

Moody's revises Minnesota's outlook to stable; assigns Aa1 to G.O. bonds Series 2013A, B, and C
No Related Data.

 

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