Dale Righter

Illinois State Senator | 55th District

News

Senate Week in Review: April 1 - 5, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

Illinois benefited this week from improved market conditions that allowed the state to secure interest rates on construction bonds that State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said neared national historic lows.

Illinois sold a total of $800 million in bonds on April 2 for construction projects, receiving a 3.92% interest rate on $450 million of tax-exempt bonds. This matches a 20-year low the state received in Jan. 2012. On the second set of bonds, Illinois received a 4.97% rate on $350 million in taxable bonds, which was better than the 5.29% the state received in Jan. 2012 on similar bonds.

Righter emphasized that despite the low rates, Illinois will pay a higher interest rate than would a state with a better credit rating.

“Because Illinois’ credit rating is at rock-bottom, the interest rates we receive are much higher than rates given to states with good or excellent credit,” Righter explained. “It is great that Illinois was able to benefit from these historically low rates, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Illinois would be paying even less in interest if the state’s credit rating wasn’t the worst in the nation.”

The Senator said that the credit rating isn’t likely to improve any time soon, if a report from the University of Illinois is to be believed.

Illinois appears to be experiencing a lull in its economic recovery, according to a University of Illinois "flash index" released at the beginning of April. The index showed that while the state's economy continues to expand, after three years of improvements the rate of that expansion slowed slightly in March and Illinois’ economic growth continues to lag behind the rest of the nation.

The University's report coincides with the release of most current state unemployment numbers, which showed unemployment is higher in 10 out of 12 metropolitan areas when comparing Feb. 2013 to Feb. 2012. Statewide unemployment rose to 9.5 percent in February, from 9 percent the previous month and 8.9 percent in February 2012.

In other news, in late March the state's Department of Corrections released the first inmates in three years as part of a revised early release program. Under the revised program non-violent offenders are granted up to 180 days of early release credit if they meet specified criteria.

Early release of prisoners had been suspended after the Associated Press uncovered a series of problems in late 2009 and early 2010. At the time, it was revealed that under a controversial "Meritorious Good Time-Push" program (MGT Push) the Department of Corrections was releasing prisoners, including some with a history of violent crimes, after an average stay of just 16 days.

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