SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce says the new S&P Global Rating outlook for Vermont, which moved from "stable" to "negative" this week, was another wake-up call for state policy makers.
At least 17 states have seen their bond ratings or outlooks decline since the start of the pandemic, but Pearce said in Vermont's case the factors driving the concern are its aging population, low birth rates and growing state pension and health care liabilities.
While S&P did not downgrade Vermont's AA+ rating, its outlook is a warning sign that the state could face rising interest costs in the years ahead. The other two rating agencies -- Fitch and Moody's -- reaffirmed Vermont's solid ratings in June.
The treasurer said she will make a new series of recommendations to the governor and members of the Legislature in Jan. 14. Here is part of our conversation.