"(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has touted Illinois’ improved credit rating while in office. However, an accounting expert with a government watchdog says that rating has little to do with a state’s financial condition.
A report by Truth in Accounting highlights Illinois’ credit rating upgrade from Moody credit ratings. Despite the upgrade, Illinois continues to have the worst credit rating of all 50 states.
Sheila Weinberg of Truth in Accounting said Illinois got a credit upgrade because the state started to pay off borrowed money.
"The state’s credit rating has little to do with the government’s overall financial condition," Weinberg said. "It has to do with whether or not the bonds they have borrowed will get paid off or not."
Moody’s upgrade was in part based upon the state’s plan to put $1 billion "into its financial reserves, such as its ‘rainy day’ fund." Weinberg said the state is misusing those funds.
"My point would be if we have extra money to put into the rainy day fund, why wouldn’t you just use that money instead of having to borrow money? Taxpayers will have to pay back with interest," Weinberg said.
The report shows that the state has more than $200 billion in debt, including unfunded pension liabilities. Weinberg said the improved rating has led to more borrowing.
"What is going on is they are borrowing money to pay off the pensioners," Weinberg said. "So they are borrowing from one lender to pay off another lender ultimately."
Illinois has the highest unfunded pension obligations in the country."
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