Kirk urges action to keep state’s credit rating up

SPRINGFIELD – Sen. Mark Kirk, still recovering from a major stroke, released a video Tuesday that calls for “decisive bipartisan action” to prevent further reductions in Illinois’ credit ratings.

The Republican senator did not spell out what action he thinks is necessary. State officials are deadlocked over how to lower pension costs, which are a major factor in the state’s declining credit ratings. As a federal official, Kirk has no formal role in fixing the state’s financial problems. His office said it’s important for such a high-ranking official to weigh in on critical state issues.

Kirk, who suffered a major stroke in January and is undergoing physical rehabilitation, appeared in two earlier videos updating the public on his recovery, but Tuesday’s was the first in which he discusses policy.

Moody’s Investors Service lowered its rating for Illinois in January, and Standard and Poor’s Ratings Service did the same last month.

The lower ratings typically translate to higher costs for the state when it has to sell bonds.

“Everyone inside the borders of Illinois is disadvantaged by these higher interest costs because of poor debt management by our state,” Kirk says in the video, which opens with more than a minute of ominous music and headlines painting a grim picture of the state’s situation.

Kirk appears for less than 30 seconds, speaking clearly but with frequent brief pauses.

“I think it’s time for decisive bipartisan action to make sure our state does not have the worst credit rating of all 50 states,” he said.

The freshman senator has said he talks to his staff several times a day about key issues and gets email updates from the Senate’s Republican leader.

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