Budget group says state’s liability larger than advertised

Moody’s Investors’ Service says Illinois’ backlog of bills has climbed to $6.6 billion dollars as of the end of the calendar year, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture, according to a budget transparency group.

In a short report from Moody’s this week, the ratings agency says Illinois’ unpaid bills equal approximately 19 percent of the state’s general fund expenditures and is a quote “clear indicator of weak liquidity and governance.”

Bill Bergman, director of research with Truth In Accounting (TIA), says the real picture is much more quote “staggering.”

“It is a tough thing to measure exactly but it is certainly using the state’s own assumptions,” he told Illinois News Network. “We are talking about more than $100 billion of retirement debt that hasn’t been reflected.”

Truth In Accounting looks at all states and the country as a whole and Bergman says Illinois is at the bottom of the barrel.

TIA also says the threat of a higher tax burden and diminished state services because of a mounting backlog of bills and unfunded liabilities is real and something that needs to be addressed.

Bergman says it’s more than a coincidence that people are leaving the state.

“Because of the not just the current tax burden but the prospects of future reduced government services and/or higher taxes in the future,” he said. “The sooner we address the issues involved, the better.”

Illinois saw 3,000 fewer jobs over the year last year and U.S. Census data indicates the state lost on net over 22,000 people.

Meanwhile, Bergman says the unfunded liability is larger than what Moody’s states, especially when considering pensions and retiree healthcare.

Illinois News Network

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