What US downgrade means for Virginia

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – State leaders are keeping a very close eye on the markets and the federal government after Standard and Poor's downgraded the country's credit rating.  Virginia's rating remains at the AAA-level but we're not in the clear just yet.

The move of the world's largest economy to an AA+ credit rating made history. Exactly how the effects of that change will trickle down is on Finance Secretary Ric Brown's radar.

"It changes the whole nature of the game in terms of the market and how we look at things," he explained.

How this plays out in the next several months matters to all states, but the Commonwealth might be more susceptible to fall out.

"Obviously because of the presence of the federal government in Virginia, what they might have to do in order to fix their budgetary problems, there's some added risk for Virginia," Brown told NBC12. "Cutbacks could affect Virginia disproportionately."

That's mostly due to the large percentage of federal and military employees and government contractors who live and work here.

Brown thinks it's too soon to tell if Virginia's AAA bond rating is also in jeopardy of a downgrade.

If it becomes reality, the state could be charged more interest on loans for projects like roads and bridges. Brown explained right now, officials are working to improve the factors they can actually control.

"From the bond rating firms' point of view Virginia gets very high marks in terms of financial management, in terms of policing its debt capacity and doing all the right things," he said.

Where this path leaves the state's checkbook and ability to borrow money ultimately hinges on what further cuts Washington decides to enact.

"Hurry up and wait," is what Brown said the state will be doing.

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