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Rating Action:

Moody's revises New Jersey's School Bond Reserve Guarantee Program (Chapter 72) outlook to negative, affirms Aa3 enhanced rating

25 Aug 2014

Affects Approximately $7B of Long-Term GO School Debt

New York, August 25, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has revised the outlook to negative, from stable, and affirmed the Aa3 enhanced rating on New Jersey's School Bond Reserve Guarantee Program (Chapter 72). The program guarantees debt service on general obligation bonds issued by New Jersey public school districts, as well as debt issued by New Jersey counties and municipalities for educational purposes. The rating action affects approximately $7 billion of guaranteed long-term school debt outstanding.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

The Aa3 reflects our assessment of the program's ability to make timely payments on the $7 billion guaranteed debt outstanding relative to the value of the reserve corpus, $71.9 million as of June 30, 2014 (unaudited), based on the following factors:

(1) The program's strong constitutional and statutory authorizations and protections with provisions that provide an effective guarantee on debt service and reimbursement mechanism following a draw through the interception of state aid appropriated for issuers. Weaknesses in the mechanical provisions of the guarantee heighten the chance that a default might occur due to timing or human error, given the reserve's reliance on school district officials to inform the State of an impending default.

(2) A sizable but highly leveraged capital base compared to its peer group of state school bond guarantee funds, providing the reserve only a moderate ability to withstand simultaneous defaults by several large issuers. The reserve benefits from a conservative approach to the management of corpus investments. A track record of school districts never drawing upon the reserve in its 31-year history provides added comfort at the present rating level.

(3) New Jersey school districts' adequate but declining weighted average credit quality (weighted average rating of A1) due to the accumulated credit deterioration of several individual school participants. Public school finances are further bolstered by active state oversight from the state's Department of Education and Division of Local Government Services.

(4) The deteriorating financial condition of the State of New Jersey (GO rated A1 negative, downgraded from Aa3 negative in May 2014). Although the Chapter 72 School Bond Reserve's rating is not directly linked to the state's General Obligation rating, the state's credit rating is a measure of its ability to replenish reserve draws, continue strong oversight of school districts and fund school districts through annual state aid appropriations.

OUTLOOK

The negative outlook reflects the weakening credit profile of New Jersey's public school districts (weighted average rating of A1) and the State of New Jersey. Further deterioration of either of these could lead to a downgrade of the Chapter 72 program.

STRENGTHS:

-Constitutional and statutory protections for corpus and guarantee mechanism

-State aid intercept mechanism facilitates rapid replenishment following a draw

-Conservative and liquid investment portfolio of the Reserve

-Adequate creditworthiness of New Jersey public school districts

-Strong state oversight of New Jersey public school finances

CHALLENGES:

-Highly levered reserve as measured by total amount of guaranteed debt outstanding

-Guarantee mechanics leave room for timing errors, relying on local officials to identify impending defaults

-Operational oversight of corpus is relatively undeveloped

-Declining financial position and credit quality of the State of New Jersey

OUTLOOK

The negative outlook reflects the weakening credit profile of New Jersey's public school districts (weighted average rating of A1) and the State of New Jersey's underlying general obligation credit rating. Further deterioration of either of these could likely lead to a downgrade of the program's rating.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - UP:

-A statutorily mandated decrease in the Reserve's leverage level

-Strengthening of the Reserve's legal framework and mechanical protections

-Increase in the average credit quality of New Jersey public school districts or the state of New Jersey

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - DOWN:

-A statutorily mandated increase in the reserve's leverage level

-Weakening of the reserve's legal framework

-A decline in the average credit quality of New Jersey public school districts or the state of New Jersey

Rating Methodology Used

The rating reflects our assessment of the Reserve's ability to make payments on the guarantee relative to the value of the fund corpus. Additional considerations include (1) the program's adequate constitutional and statutory protections with effective guarantee and reimbursement mechanisms, (2) an adequate but highly leveraged capital base with conservative management of corpus investments, (3) NJ school districts' adequate but declining weighted average credit quality (weighted average rating of A1), active state oversight of public school finances and (4) the state's A1 underlying general obligation rating with negative outlook.

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.

Vito Galluccio
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

Julie A Beglin
Vice President - Senior Analyst
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 New Jersey's School Bond Reserve Guarantee Program (Chapter 72) outlook to negative, affirms Aa3 enhanced rating
No Related Data.
© 2019 Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, “MOODY’S”). All rights reserved.

CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE, INC. AND ITS RATINGS AFFILIATES (“MIS”) ARE MOODY’S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS MAY INCLUDE MOODY’S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. MOODY’S DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT OR IMPAIRMENT. SEE MOODY’S RATING SYMBOLS AND DEFINITIONS PUBLICATION FOR INFORMATION ON THE TYPES OF CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS ADDRESSED BY MOODY’S RATINGS. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY’S OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS MAY ALSO INCLUDE QUANTITATIVE MODEL-BASED ESTIMATES OF CREDIT RISK AND RELATED OPINIONS OR COMMENTARY PUBLISHED BY MOODY’S ANALYTICS, INC. CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. NEITHER CREDIT RATINGS NOR MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY’S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS AND PUBLISHES MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL, WITH DUE CARE, MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.

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CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT INTENDED FOR USE BY ANY PERSON AS A BENCHMARK AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED FOR REGULATORY PURPOSES AND MUST NOT BE USED IN ANY WAY THAT COULD RESULT IN THEM BEING CONSIDERED A BENCHMARK.

All information contained herein is obtained by MOODY’S from sources believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error as well as other factors, however, all information contained herein is provided “AS IS” without warranty of any kind. MOODY'S adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and from sources MOODY'S considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, MOODY’S is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process or in preparing the Moody’s publications.

To the extent permitted by law, MOODY’S and its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors and suppliers disclaim liability to any person or entity for any indirect, special, consequential, or incidental losses or damages whatsoever arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use of or inability to use any such information, even if MOODY’S or any of its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors or suppliers is advised in advance of the possibility of such losses or damages, including but not limited to: (a) any loss of present or prospective profits or (b) any loss or damage arising where the relevant financial instrument is not the subject of a particular credit rating assigned by MOODY’S.

To the extent permitted by law, MOODY’S and its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors and suppliers disclaim liability for any direct or compensatory losses or damages caused to any person or entity, including but not limited to by any negligence (but excluding fraud, willful misconduct or any other type of liability that, for the avoidance of doubt, by law cannot be excluded) on the part of, or any contingency within or beyond the control of, MOODY’S or any of its directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, licensors or suppliers, arising from or in connection with the information contained herein or the use of or inability to use any such information.

NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY CREDIT RATING OR OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY MOODY’S IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.

Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation (“MCO”), hereby discloses that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. have, prior to assignment of any rating, agreed to pay to Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. for ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,000 to approximately $2,700,000. MCO and MIS also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of MIS’s ratings and rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold ratings from MIS and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at www.moodys.com under the heading “Investor Relations — Corporate Governance — Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy.”

Additional terms for Australia only: Any publication into Australia of this document is pursuant to the Australian Financial Services License of MOODY’S affiliate, Moody’s Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657AFSL 336969 and/or Moody’s Analytics Australia Pty Ltd ABN 94 105 136 972 AFSL 383569 (as applicable). This document is intended to be provided only to “wholesale clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. By continuing to access this document from within Australia, you represent to MOODY’S that you are, or are accessing the document as a representative of, a “wholesale client” and that neither you nor the entity you represent will directly or indirectly disseminate this document or its contents to “retail clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. MOODY’S credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors.

Additional terms for Japan only: Moody's Japan K.K. (“MJKK”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly-owned by Moody’s Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO. Moody’s SF Japan K.K. (“MSFJ”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of MJKK. MSFJ is not a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (“NRSRO”). Therefore, credit ratings assigned by MSFJ are Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings. Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings are assigned by an entity that is not a NRSRO and, consequently, the rated obligation will not qualify for certain types of treatment under U.S. laws. MJKK and MSFJ are credit rating agencies registered with the Japan Financial Services Agency and their registration numbers are FSA Commissioner (Ratings) No. 2 and 3 respectively.

MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) hereby disclose that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) have, prior to assignment of any rating, agreed to pay to MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) for ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from JPY125,000 to approximately JPY250,000,000.

MJKK and MSFJ also maintain policies and procedures to address Japanese regulatory requirements.

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