- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2003

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Maryland maintained its coveted AAA rating on $589.6 million in bonds sold yesterday despite the fact that the state's financial picture may be getting a little worse.
Warren Deschenaux, the legislature's chief fiscal adviser, said revenues for fiscal 2003 had been running about even with last year.
The state was facing a $1.2 billion revenue shortfall for fiscal 2004, which begins July 1, when former Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. began putting spending reductions into place.
That has been trimmed to an estimated $900 million, Mr. Deschenaux said. But it could go back up to about $1 billion when the Board of Revenue Estimates submits its report next month.
The bonds sold yesterday went for an interest rate of a little less than 3.57 percent, the second lowest the state has ever received.
Maryland also got a premium of $71 million from the purchaser, a syndicate headed by Bear, Stearns & Co. That money can be used to help close the revenue shortfall and balance the budget.
Maryland is one of eight states that retains a AAA bond rating, the best available, from all the New York bond rating houses.


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