New bill would increase state and local gov't transparency

Christine Kuglin | November 16, 2022

For decades, the goal of increased government financial transparency has been widely shared across political parties and stakeholder groups. The Financial Data Transparency Act (S.4295), proposed by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, takes a major step toward openness and accessibility by directing seven financial regulators, including the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, to develop "machine-readable" data standards that accurately reflect the existing reporting standards. So, it is surprising that this transparency measure has attracted stiff opposition when it has proven so successful in corporate reporting. READ MORE HERE.

TIA Analysis of Pritzker's Economic Report for 2022

Sheila Weinberg | November 15, 2022

Yesterday, November 14, 2022, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued a press release touting the findings of the state's annual Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report (the Economic Report). In the release, he claimed:

Over Two Thirds Of U.S. States Do Not Have Enough Cash To Pay Their Obligations

Mayra Rodriquez Valladares | October 25, 2022

Thirty-one states, or over two-thirds of U.S. states, do not have enough cash to pay their bills. For the thirteenth year in a row, nonpartisan accounting watchdog Truth in Accounting (TIA) released its ‘Financial State of the States’ report today describing the weak financial condition of numerous states.

Are Government Accountants ‘Quiet Quitting’ in the Opposition to Senate Bill 4295?

October 24, 2022


In recent weeks, several magazines have run stories that Americans are “quiet quitting.” In case you haven’t heard this term, it refers to the idea that workers are doing just enough to get by without getting fired. American workers think they are not paid enough, are not recognized for their efforts, and have been sacrificing other life pursuits to give 100 percent to the company.

This is not just an American phenomenon, it is happening around the globe. Covid taught us to rethink our dedication to our careers. Many of us took a step backwards in the past two years and reflected on life in general. If things get too hard, we should just do enough to get by.

This got me thinking about new government initiatives and my reaction to change. I started this new position at Truth in Accounting last summer. And I won’t lie to you. Starting something completely new has been hard. There were a few times where I wasn’t sure “hard” was worth it.

You're Invited: Official Launch TIA Project at DU

October 21, 2022

October 25 Official Launch of the Truth in Accounting Project at the University of Denver
Are Government Officials the Best Ones to Manage Pension Funds & Social Security?
What are the Biggest Issues Facing Government Finances?
These and other questions will be explored.

RSVP HERE for in-person and RSVP HERE for the live-stream option

The American Rescue Plan

October 18, 2022

The American Rescue Plan (ARP)  was enacted to provide state and local governments with the money needed to rescue their budgets and economies during the pandemic. The Treasury administered over $1 trillion of funds appropriated through the legislation. Almost $195 billion went to the states mostly based upon the number of unemployed people in each state. According to the US Treasury, the Act provided funds for many state and local projects, including “affordable housing, quality education, and public health to reduce the health, economic, and educational disparities that left them more vulnerable to COVID-19.” READ MORE

30-day Sprint to Election Day

October 12, 2022

Lamont, Stefanowski begin final 30-day sprint to Election Day

The persuasion phase of Gov. Ned Lamont’s campaign remains at full throttle on TV, evident in ads that air hourly, from dawn newscasts to late-night talk shows. And his ad buy was bigger last week than the one before.

But there is a shift in tone and how the campaign is deploying its candidate. Lamont spends nearly as much time urging fellow Democrats to get out the vote on Nov. 8 as he does seeking votes from the dwindling ranks of the undecided.

The Thing About Friends: They Keep Us Grounded

October 9, 2022


TIA recently completed our analysis of the 50 states and will release the results on October 25. Some seismic shifts occurred due to Covid-relief money and last year's stock market gains. Stay tuned!

While trying to explain the overarching thesis of the analysis to a friend, it was brought to my attention that some people think the terms financial statements and budgets are interchangeable. 

In her exact words, "I thought those were interchangeable accounting jargon thingies!" (no kidding)

Worst 10 State Finances

Colossicus Content | Colossicus Content Enterprises, LLC | October 4, 2022

"Have you ever wondered, “What if my state suddenly imploded because of how much debt it has?” No? Are you sure? You’re not constantly considering if your state has the worst state finances?

Well, that’s okay.

You’re here now.

You’re safe.

You’re about to be serenaded with the exact information you never wondered in your life but now desperately must know – what is the state of my state’s finances? Is it the worst in the Union? How’s my state’s budget? Is it balanced? (Spoiler alert: it’s not) Did you know that state budgets can affect you personally? (Yes you, reading this in Kansas).

But lucky you in Kansas, you are not among those states who would affect their population the worst, because the ranking below works like so: take the total debts (or surplus) or money and monetary assets a state has at the end of its fiscal year and subtract what it was obligated to pay out. Then you divide that total debt obligation by the population of that state. So what you get is the average amount a taxpayer of the state they reside in would have to pay to help keep their state out of debt for that year.

This list focuses on those states in lots of debt, and continue to be in debt as they did not have enough money to meet their debts for the year. If they had strong-armed their population to pay up to meet their obligations, then each taxpayer would have to pay quite a large amount per person. This list is thus ranked by whatever random taxpayers in the states below would have had to pay in taxes to help balance their state’s budgets."

District 65 Still Having Payroll Issues

October 3, 2022

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 teachers received their first paychecks for the 2022-23 school year on Monday, Sept. 12, but not without some problems.

One teacher who left the district entirely and is now teaching in another suburb received a District 65 paycheck for the first two weeks of school.

And there were other examples of problems: At least one teacher did not receive a paycheck at all, while multiple other teachers did not receive stipends for extra summer work done or teaching an extra class, according to several educators who called the RoundTable and either experienced payroll snafus themselves or related the stories of some of their colleagues. READ MORE.

Column: Connecticut’s Spending Problem is Your Problem

September 26, 2022

By State Rep. Kimberly Fiorello

One of the best ways to understand the State’s budget is to imagine it’s part of your own personal budget.

According to Truth in Accounting, a non-partisan non-profit research organization whose mission is “to compel governments to produce financial reports that are understandable, reliable, transparent and correct,” each Connecticut taxpayer is on the hook for $62,500 of the state debt — the highest debt burden per taxpayer in the country. An updated report is coming soon in October.

This means you have your checking and savings accounts, your credit card bills, the mortgage on your house, and you cannot ignore that Connecticut has a credit card bill for you too – your share of the debt the state has imposed on you.

Senator Mark Warner wants state and local governments to be more transparent with financial data

September 23, 2022

Getting your hands on the financial statements of your local government can be frustrating. And sometimes when you do track it down the document is not formatted in a way you can search the text, Judi Willard at Truth in Accounting says, “It can be really frustrating, sometimes they literally put a picture of a number, it’s a jpeg that looks pretty on the document but where did you come up with that number.” This is why Senator Mark Warner of Virginia introduced the Financial Data Transparency Act. Which would require state and local governments to submit their financial statements in a machine-readable format. Marc Joffe from the Reason Foundation says, “This type of disclosure has been required by the Security and Exchange for corporations for years, and it's time the government follows suit.” LISTEN HERE

Analyst warns Illinois law could bring higher property tax rates thanks to record inflation

September 23, 2022

For the first time in 30 years, an analyst warns local governments in Illinois can raise their property taxes to cover losses due to inflation. Local governments can seek a maximum 5% increase.

In 1991 Illinois instituted a property tax cap that limits governments' ability to raise property taxes by more than 5% or whatever the inflation rate was at that time.

With inflation in Illinois and across the country at its highest mark in decades, local governments can increase taxes to compensate for it. READ MORE

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