News Column

Fitch Rates Commonwealth of Massachusetts 2006A GO Bank Bonds 'AA+'

August 6, 2014

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Fitch Ratings has assigned a rating of 'AA+' to bank bonds corresponding to the following series of Commonwealth of Massachusetts general obligation (GO) bonds:

--$150 million GO bonds, consolidated loan of 2006 (variable rate demand bonds) series A.

The rating is being assigned in conjunction with the substitution of a Standby Bond Purchase Agreement (SBPA) with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Based on a review of the terms governing the bank bonds, it is Fitch's opinion that the incremental risk associated with bank bonds does not have a material impact on the long-term credit rating of the GO bonds.

The Rating Outlook is Stable.

SECURITY

General obligations of the Commonwealth, to which its full faith and credit are pledged.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

STRONG AND WEALTHY ECONOMY: Massachusetts has a broad and diverse economy with the third-highest personal income per capita in the nation.

PRUDENT FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: The Commonwealth has benefited from conservative budgeting and sound financial practices over time. A limitation on the use of capital gains-related tax revenue has reduced the volatility of economically sensitive revenues in the budget, and the Commonwealth has shown a commitment to reserve funding.

COMPARATIVELY HIGH LIABILITY BURDEN: Massachusetts' debt levels are high for a U.S. state government, and Fitch expects them to remain so. This is partially explained by the above-average role played by the Commonwealth in relation to local levels of government when compared to most other states. In addition, the Commonwealth is responsible for the pension benefits of not only Commonwealth employees but also teachers statewide, contributing to a combined burden of debt and pensions that is also well above the median for U.S. states rated by Fitch.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

The rating is sensitive to shifts in fundamental credit characteristics including the state's commitment to strong financial management practices.

CREDIT PROFILE

Massachusetts' 'AA+' GO rating reflects considerable economic resources and a record of prudent financial management. Credit strengths are tempered by a comparatively heavy debt burden that Fitch expects to remain high. The Stable Outlook reflects the expectation that the Commonwealth will continue to act as needed to ensure budget balance and maintain an adequate budgeted reserve position.

For more information on the Commonwealth, see the press release dated July 25, 2014, 'Fitch Rates $400MM Massachusetts GO Bonds 'AA+'; Outlook Stable', available at www.fitchratings.com.

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

--'Tax-Supported Rating Criteria' (Aug. 14, 2012);

--'U.S. State Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria' (Aug. 14, 2012).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Tax-Supported Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686015

U.S. State Government Tax-Supported Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686033

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status

http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=845974

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.



Fitch Ratings

Primary Analyst

Laura Porter

Managing Director

+1-212-908-0575

Fitch Ratings, Inc.

33 Whitehall Street

New York, NY 10004

or

Secondary Analyst

Douglas Offerman

Senior Director

+1-212-908-0889

or

Committee Chairperson

Marcy Block

Senior Director

+1-212-908-0239

or

Media Relations

Elizabeth Fogerty, New York, +1-212-908-0526,

elizabeth.fogerty@fitchratings.com


Source: Fitch Ratings


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