Georgia secures AAA bond rating for another year

Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday Georgia has maintained the AAA credit rating needed to get low interest rates on the debt, despite questions about whether legislative decisions would jeopardize the state’s financial standing.

The governor announced that the three main credit-rating agencies gave Georgia the high marks at a press conference unveiling his decision to spend $100 million in state bonds to finance a bus rapid transit system along the Ga. 400 corridor.

That rating can save the state tens of millions of dollars a year in interest payments on state debt, so it’s frequently touted by statehouse leaders. But this year’s review process was more intensely scrutinized because of two other factors.

The first is a tax cut overwhelmingly approved by state lawmakers and signed by Deal that cuts the top state income tax rate — the rate most Georgians pay on a majority of their income — from 6 percent to 5.5 percent over two years.

The second is Deal's decision to sign legislation that would create a new city of Eagle's Landing by carving out land taken from the existing city of Stockbridge. The measure's critics long warned the move would risk the state's AAA rating.

At the press conference, Deal said the state has secured the AAA ratings for roughly two decades.

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The Hands-Free Georgia Act takes effect July 1.