Fitch lowers Illinois' credit rating due to budget 'failure'

CHICAGO (AP) - A major credit rating agency has again downgraded Illinois' rating, citing the "unprecedented failure" to approve a state budget.

Fitch Ratings lowered the rating Wednesday on nearly $26 billion of general obligation bonds from BBB+ to BBB. That's a few levels above "junk" status.

Illinois already has the worst rating of any state. The lower rating means taxpayers pay more when Illinois borrows money.

Fitch noted lawmakers haven't passed a budget for two consecutive years and spending is occurring at levels "far in excess" of what the state is bringing in.

The agency says even if efforts in the Illinois Senate to pass a budget deal are successful the prolonged inaction "has fundamentally weakened the state's financial profile."

Fitch warns another downgrade would be warranted if the issue isn't resolved.