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Jersey City Receives Second Consecutive Credit Upgrade Under Mayor Fulop

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JERSEY CITY -- Citing strong local leadership from Mayor Fulop’s administration, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services upgraded Jersey City’s credit rating to AA- last week, marking the second credit upgrade since Mayor Fulop took office. In their report, S&P noted “key economic initiatives” by the Fulop administration and “strong management” as critical factors.

“My top priority from day one has always been improving the quality of life and fostering continued growth for Jersey City. This credit upgrade is further proof that we are on the right track,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “Not only will this save taxpayers money, but it also sends an important signal to potential businesses, investors, residents, and others looking to move to Jersey City that our house is in order.” 

Since taking office, the Fulop administration has made pro-growth policies a priority, focusing on supporting local businesses, improving the quality of life for City residents, and supporting the middle class. Innovative partnerships with the private and non-profit sectors have been the hallmark of the administration’s strategy to grow the economy and improve city services without putting the burden on taxpayers. S&P’s report is proof that these policies are having their intended effect. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Fulop also implemented the city’s first-ever comprehensive fiscal management policy, which has been a big factor in the administration’s ability to control budget growth and keep taxes flat for three years in a row. The policy, which created a fiscal oversight committee and required three-year projections of costs and revenues as part of a forward-looking budgeting process, was specifically noted by S&P as a strong positive credit factor. 

“With two credit upgrades in the last three years, and an impressive record of recent job growth, Jersey City's story is a unique one in New Jersey, where we've seen repeated credit downgrades and a statewide unemployment rate higher than the national average,” said Dr. Brigid Harrison, Professor of  Political Science and Law at Montclair University. “Not only is Jersey City's progress remarkable compared to the state as a whole, but it’s also worth noting that Jersey City’s credit rating is now equal or better than any other comparable city in New Jersey.” 

Driven by strong local leadership, Jersey City has become an economic powerhouse. S&P’s report notes per-capita effective buying power of more than 120% of the national level and a total property value for the city that’s risen nearly 10% over the past year alone. With 450 new small businesses opening, more than 6,000 jobs created, and median household income and property values on the rise, Jersey City’s middle class is stronger than ever - and growing. 

“Governor Christie likes to say that we have to choose between a progressive agenda and common fiscal sense. Under Mayor Fulop’s leadership, Jersey City has enjoyed both,” said Kevin Brown, the New Jersey State Director for SEIU 32BJ. This credit upgrade proves what everyone already knows – that a policy of supporting working families pays dividends.” 

This credit upgrade comes while Mayor Fulop has continued to pursue progressive policies focused on helping middle and working class residents. Jersey City was the first city in New Jersey – and only the sixth in the entire country – to pass earned sick leave; the first to raise the minimum wage to $15 for city employees; and the first to expand healthcare coverage to transgender employees. Jersey City is leading the state in building new affordable housing, well on the way to eliminating veteran homelessness in Hudson County, and has substantially increased investments in parks, recreation, and youth programs. 

"Time and again we've heard from New Jersey conservatives that government must take the low road of austerity, but Jersey City's success shows that progressive policies and fiscal responsibility go hand in hand," said Analilia Mejia, executive director of New Jersey Working Families. "Whether it's raising the minimum wage for public workers to $15 an hour, guaranteeing paid sick days for all, or dramatically expanding investment in parks and affordable housing, Jersey City under Mayor Fulop has implemented a bold progressive agenda that is clearly paying off. Right now Jersey City is an example for lawmakers in Trenton and in town halls around the state to follow." - Jennifer Morrill, Press Secretary to Mayor Steven M. Fulop, 25 April 2016.

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