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Just Give Me Some Truth in Government Accounting

Joe Calomino 24 October 2009 3 Comments

Springfield is abuzz about how to spend our money. Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes are locked in battle about what taxes to hike and which budgetary tricks to use in their effort to tame Illinois’ runaway spending and its crushing debt.

There is little doubt by either political party that something must be done. Since 2000, Illinois’ annual spending has grown by more than 20 percent while the economy has grown by only 12 percent. Illinois’ debt has grown by more than 57 percent over the same period. Every man, woman, and child in the state now owes the state’s creditors $4,125.

This burden has effects on the state’s economy. Illinois is the sixth worst state for private sector job growth. If no jobs are being created, people tend to leave. Over the past 10 years, the only two states to lose more people than Illinois to domestic migration are New York and California.

As people leave and spending continues to spiral upward, the debt burden on taxpayers goes up. It’s a vicious circle that cannot be solved by tax increases, which only deepen the problem by discouraging economic growth.

But there is another, more fundamental budget problem in Illinois. Our budgetary process is broken. Illinois is constitutionally obligated to produce balanced budgets. Despite this, Illinois debt grows more with each budget. According to the Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA), this is because the governor, the comptroller, and the General Assembly use a myriad of accounting tricks, nontransparent procedures, and, in some cases, a total subversion of the law in order to pass their budgets. For example, the IFTA provides evidence on its Web site that the state government fails to provide revenue and expenditure estimates in accordance with the State Budget Law.

Recently, Quinn announced he is borrowing money from the state’s road fund to reinstate about $200 million to the education Monetary Award Program (MAP). But the money still needs to be accounted for regardless of where it comes from. “Switching money from one pocket to the other is not going to solve it,” said the Institute for Truth in Accounting’s CEO Sheila Weinberg.

Illinois can no longer pretend it has a balanced budget and can no longer give its politicians the power to obscure their accounting games.

How can we solve the budget deficit when we don’t really know the scope of the problem? Before the General Assembly reconvenes in January for the 2010 legislative session, we need to have an honest discussion about the system of waste, fraud and abuse that exists in Springfield. Americans for Prosperity believes that any proposal that looks at tax increases or archaic cuts first is missing the true problem in Illinois: a lack of fact-based budgeting.

Only with a true picture of our total expenditures and revenues can we begin to discuss solutions to our financial woes. Illinois needs budgetary reforms how and fact-based budgeting is the first step.
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Joe Calomino is state director of Americans for Prosperity-Illinois.

3 Comments »

  • Darlene Porteus said:

    It’s very frustrating when the very people that the citizens of Illinois depend on for honesty and integrity, particularly in financial matters, turn out to liars and cheats. Is honesty and integrity a lost art? Praise goes out to the Institute for Truth in Accounting, their founder and CEO Sheila Weinberg, and everyone who spend their lives to promote truth in accounting, for all of their hard work and dedication.

  • Frank F. Stoneham said:

    Without raising taxes, we would have to declare bankruptcy. OR, commit to dranconian cuts! That ain’t going to happen though.

    Declare bankruptcy, then institute those dranconian cuts, especially to the pension plan that Illinois owes in the tens of billions of dollars. Also, have our elected officials in Springfield contribute more to their taxpayer paid insurance that most of us would be envious about. Let us all feel the pain.

    THEN, we institute a transparent budget, where balance budget mean just that, BALANCED!

    Regards,
    Frank f. Stoneham

  • AFP: “Tell Your State Legislator That Illinois Needs Budget Reform” | Illinois Alliance For Growth said:

    […] Mike Tryon (R- Crystal Lake) to sponsor legislation on behalf of the Institute’s “F.A.C.T (Full Accrual Calculation Techniques) based budgeting” […]

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