Think tanks analysis of state’s fiscal health gives Illinois failing grade

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(The Center Square) – A think tank that promotes fiscal transparency is giving Illinois a failing grade for its financial situation.

Truth in Accounting has released its 14th annual Financial State of the States report, which analyzes the fiscal health of all 50 states based on fiscal year 2022 annual financial reports.

Like many states, Illinois’s economic condition improved due to federal funding for COVID-19 relief and increased tax collections attributed to taxpayers’ pent-up tourism and purchasing demands. However, unfunded pensions and other employee retirement obligations continue to plague the state.

Illinois is ranked 48th in the report for its fiscal health and received an “F” grade. Only Connecticut and New Jersey scored lower.

CEO Sheila Weinberg said Gov. J.B. Pritzker claims he has a balanced budget, but he includes borrowed federal funds as revenue.

“We are also disappointed that the governor is highlighting that the budget is balanced and we are running a surplus while he is shorting the pensions by $5 billion every single year,” Weinberg said.

Based on the state’s latest audited financial report for fiscal year 2022, Truth In Accounting says Illinois had a taxpayer burden of $41,600, which is the amount every taxpayer would have to contribute to get the state out of debt.

“Responsible governance allows us to make investments in what matters most and that’s our people,” Pritzker said when signing the budget into law in June. “The FY24 budget continues that progress.”

On average nationwide, the 50 states had only set aside 71 cents for every dollar of promised benefits to fund pensions and 11 cents for every dollar to fund retiree health care promises.

“We are happy to see state debt decreasing but states should not count on temporary federal funding and increased tax collections to fix their long-term problems,” Weinberg said.

Illinois recently received some positive economic news. In the latest economic report by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, through the first quarter of fiscal 2024, overall General Funds revenues are $39 million above last year’s pace.

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