Uncertainty clouds any potential future debt-rating change, Commission told

TRENTON – The Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning today heard a debt report from Treasury that showed an outstanding unfunded accrued debt of $25.6 billion as of June 30, 2010 for state retirement systems, down $5 billion from the end of fiscal year 2009.

The same report showed unfunded accrued liabilities for post-retirement medical benefits ending June 30, 2010 of $59.2 billion, and an aggregate pension and post-retirement medical liabilities of $84.9 billion, down $2.5 billion from the prior fiscal year.

Commission Chair Carol Molnar asked about the state’s debt rating, which had been downgraded to Aa3, with $34.4 billion in total net tax-supported debt, ranked third highest nationally, as of June 30, 2011.

Gross tax-supported debt was $40.1 billion, also third highest.  And New Jersey ranked fourth at 7.1 percent in terms of tax supported debt as a percentage of the gross state domestic product.

James Petrino  of the Office of Public Finance told the Commission that he couldn’t predict whether the debt downgrade would improve going forward.

He said that is a consideration that is largely budget-based, tax-based, and dependent on how the state is balancing its expenses and revenues.

Uncertainty clouds any potential future debt-rating change, Commission told