Moody's Downgrades Debt of 7 Ill. Universities

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Moody's Investors Service downgraded debt ratings on seven public Illinois universities, and warns more decreases could take place in the future.

The bond rating agency took the actions Friday, about two months after it warned it was reviewing all public universities in Illinois because of the state's precarious financial situation. The state of Illinois' debt was downgraded in early June.

In Friday's downgrades, only Northern Illinois University maintained its debt rating.

The downgrades affect a combined $2.24 billion in debt, but most of that belongs to the University of Illinois.

In separate research notes, Moody's attributes its decisions on the state's history of unpaid bills and its $100 billion pension backlog.

UI spokesman Tom Hardy told The News-Gazette the downgrade wasn't a surprise, but is still "disappointing."

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