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Vermont Hit With Another Bond Rating Downgrade

Three gray letter A's, but the third one is melting into a puddle
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Fitch Ratings has downgraded Vermont's bond rating from AAA - the highest possible score - to AA+, it's second-highest mark.

A Wall Street rating agency has downgraded Vermont's bond rating, saying that the state's aging population has put a damper on projections for economic growth.

On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings downgraded Vermont's bond rating from AAA — the highest possible score — to AA+, its second-highest mark.

It's the second downgrade from a Wall Street rating agency that Vermont has experienced within the last year. Back in October 2018, Moody's Investors Service demoted Vermont from its highest ranking, Aaa, to the second-highest Aa1 rank.

More from VPR — Aging Population, Slow Economic Growth Cost Vermont Its Triple-A Bond Rating [Oct. 23, 2018]

Gov. Phil Scott and Treasurer Beth Pearce released a joint statement Wednesday about the Fitch downgrade.

"This outcome is not unexpected, and while it is not the outcome we'd aimed for, Fitch's report also noted many positives," they wrote.

At a press conference Thursday, Scott said his administration had many conversations with rating agency officials before they issued the downgrade. He said Vermont maintains a solid fiscal reputation on Wall Street.

"They like what they see, but they keep going back to: 'It's your demographics. That's your problem. You need more people in Vermont,'" Scott said.

Fitch said it downgraded Vermont's bond rating in "expectation of slower growth prospects" in the future, and it said Vermont's demographics are partially responsible for those headwinds.

Scott said the rating downgrade underscores the need to recruit more young people to live in Vermont. Overall though, he said he isn't too worried about the current AA+ rating from Fitch.

"This is the second highest rating that the bond rating agencies give," Scott said, "so we're still the second highest, and we sit apart from many other states in that regard."

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