Report: Iowa can pay the bills but lacks transparency in its accounting



(The Center Square) – Iowa had more than enough money to pay all of its bills in 2022, ending the fiscal year with an estimated taxpayer surplus of $5,000 per person, according to a new report.

However, the state still had not released its annual financial report for fiscal year 2022 as of August 2023, according to Truth in Accounting’s annual Financial State of the States report, where the think tank analyzes and ranks states based on their fiscal health.

Iowa ranked 11th based on data from its 2021 audited Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and retirement plans’ reports.

Iowa had $14.7 billion available to pay $9.3 billion worth of bills, leaving a $5.3 billion surplus leftover, which broke down to a surplus of $5,000 per taxpayer, according to the report.

Without access to the state’s 2022 financial report, it was unclear exactly where Iowa stood with its retirement plans.

“The information for many states that have produced their 2022 financial reports revealed that the large unrealized gains of 2021 turned into losses in 2022. When newer data is available, the state’s amount of unfunded pension promises could increase significantly,” the report said.

States are considered on time with their annual financial reports if released within 180 days after the fiscal year end.

“Without the information from the financial report, citizens and elected officials are left in the dark during the budgeting process,” the report said.

Iowa was among the majority of states that had enough money to pay its bills, while 28 states did not, according to the report.

Debt among the states decreased from $1.2 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2021 to $938.6 billion at the close of fiscal year 2022, the report said. Decreasing state debt was mostly due to increased tax collections and federal COVID funds distributed to the states.

“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,” said Sheila Weinberg, founder & CEO of Truth in Accounting. “Elected officials need to include the true costs of government in their budget calculations, including accruing retirement benefits so that they can make real progress towards a healthier financial future.”

Most state debt came from retirement plans, the report found. On average, states set aside 71 cents for every dollar of promised benefits for pensions and only 11 cents every dollar to fund retiree health care, according to the report.



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