Today I received an email from Frank Mautino, Illinois Auditor General, announcing that he will be releasing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) tomorrow, Thursday, August 29, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. CT. This audited report provides citizens with the best financial information issued by the state, such as the amount of unfunded pension and other retirement promises.
The standard for CAFR timeliness set by the Government Financial Officers Association is 180 days after the end of the fiscal year. It has been 425 days since Illinois’ fiscal year end of June 30, 2018. Unfortunately, Illinois’ report is the latest its ever been at 245 days after the 180 days standard and long past the passage of the state budget. Just as knowing how much debt you have before you spend, I believe the information in the CAFR is crucial to the budgeting process.
Just to show how late Illinois has been, let us compare it to the timeliness of financial reports for 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The average number of days that these companies released their financial reports after the end of fiscal year 2016 was 49 days. These companies not only use the information provided in their financial report to make business and financial decisions for the following year, but if they are publicly traded companies, they are required by law to release it within 90 days. If corporations with a large financial operation spread throughout the world can provide their financial reports in less than 50 days, states such as Illinois have no excuse for their tardiness.
Once the CAFR is released I will be happy to provide commentary on its contents and discuss the state’s lack of timeliness in issuing the report.
We will be releasing our analysis of Illinois’ CAFR in late September, with our tenth annual Financial State of the States report. Be on the lookout for our truthful, timely, and transparent report.