CHICAGO — Despite Illinois’ ongoing financial crises and a new rule requiring Illinois to report all of its pension liabilities, the state continues to hide $8.1 billion of pension debt from taxpayers. This information is released today in a report titled The Financial State of Illinois, by Truth in Accounting (TIA), a Chicago-based think tank that analyzes government financials.
According to the report, Illinois has $213 billion of bills but has only $26 billion available to pay them. This means Illinois still needs $187 billion to pay all of its bills. When broken down by taxpayer, this equates to $45,500 per Illinois taxpayer.
“Because of budgeting and accounting gimmicks the state uses, Illinois has been able to exclude massive debts off its balance sheet and hide related costs from taxpayers,” said Sheila Weinberg, TIA Founder and CEO. “Unfortunately all of these financial problems are coming to a head in Illinois.”
The report discloses that Illinois has $116.7 billion of pension debt, but state officials are only reporting $108.6 billion. This means Illinois is hiding $8.1 billion of pension debt from taxpayers. TIA researchers also report that state officials are hiding $32.3 billion of retiree health care debt.
“Illinois is approaching almost a full year without passing a budget. Non-profits have been forced to layoff thousands of employees and Chicago State University almost shut down in April. Illinois’ debt is one of the worst in the country, and its pension systems have received nationwide coverage for their poor condition,” said Weinberg. “With all this financial chaos, it is more important than ever for citizens to have the truthful and transparent financial information they deserve.”
Data is derived from the state of Illinois’ June 30, 2015, audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and retirement plans' actuarial reports.
Founded in 2002, Truth in Accounting is dedicated to educating and empowering citizens with understandable, reliable, and transparent government financial information. Sheila Weinberg is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience in the field.
Contact: Katherine Oxenreiter