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Dec 8, 2014 5:21 PM

One Wall Street rating agency changes NH outlook - for the better


CONCORD - A month after her re-election, Gov. Maggie Hassan got some welcome news from Wall Street as one rating agency improved its financial outlook for the state Monday.

Last spring, Standard and Poors had started a partisan assault against Hassan by concluding that pending lawsuits that the state was likely to lose prompted putting a warning label surrounding the state going to the financial markets.

Fitch Rating Service followed suit with an identical.

The moves did not actually lower the state's bond rating but a state's financial outlook can affect the price state government gets when it puts debt out onto the market.

Since those Wall Street warnings, Hassan and legislative leaders have taken steps passing state laws to ratify an agreement with hospitals over a Medicaid tax that had been constitutionally vulnerable.

At Hassan's urging, lawmakers also agreed to pay for the first down-payment of a four-year commitment state prosecutors made to bring an end to a lawsuit against the state for inadequate mental health care.

"The announcement that S&P has restored New Hampshire's credit outlook to stable is another encouraging sign that our state's financial standing is strong and we are moving in the right direction, reflecting the progress we have made through our bipartisan efforts to responsibly balance our budget and end costly lawsuits that were threatening our state's financial outlook and bond rating,'' Hassan said in a statement.

"In particular, our agreement with 25 New Hampshire hospitals to settle challenges to the Medicaid Enhancement Tax and the bipartisan legislation to implement it were critical for providing stability to our budget."


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