Illinois’ $13 Billion Deficit Took Years to Produce

The legislative session that began today as the House convened will take aim at a budget deficit of at least $13 billion, including a backlog of more than $6 billion in unpaid bills and almost $4 billion in missed payments to underfunded state pensions.

The fiscal mess is largely of the lawmakers’ own making, and failure to address the shortages threatens public schools, local governments and other public services, said Dan Hynes, the state’s outgoing comptroller.

“We’ve reached a very critical and concerning point,” Hynes said in an interview in his Chicago office, with packing boxes stacked in the corner. “What’s missing right now is a general understanding by the public of where we are, of how bad it is, and what the fallout would be if we don’t deal with it properly.”

(Full story here.)

Hey Dan, I agree with you.  But where have you been for the last four years?  Now that you’re out you’re going to claim that “lawmakers” are responsible?  Let’s just call them “politicians” because that’s what they are.

The full story is worth reading.

What the public may not appreciate, Wall Street does. Illinois shares with California the lowest U.S. state credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, which in September forecast possible “further financial deterioration.” Unlike California, Moody’s assigned Illinois a negative outlook.

Illinois’s deficit, about half its $26 billion general-fund budget, puts it among the U.S. states confronting $140 billion in shortfalls in the coming fiscal year after closing $160 billion in gaps this year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington research group.

In other words, we’re in real trouble.  Sufficient trouble that people in the know, like maybe the State’s comptroller, should have been screaming bloody murder years ago.

Hynes’ puffing now is just too little too late if you asked me.