The Fitch credit rating agency has downgraded Mississippi's bond rating outlook from stable to negative.
The state's bond rating remains AA+, only one notch below the highest AAA level, but the agency warns the rating could be lowered unless officials take steps to shore up finances.
A lower bond rating would make it more expensive for state government to borrow money.
The agency says the revised outlook reflects Mississippi's slow recovery from the recession and continued use of one-time money to cover recurring government expenses. It says poverty and low education levels hurt Mississippi.
The agency also said Mississippi's unfunded liability for public employees' pensions is too high.
Fitch is one of the three leading U.S. credit rating agencies, along with Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service.