By: Mark Glennon*
One reason why Illinois is a fiscal wreck is that the state’s budget and accounting are muck, and they are prepared — according to the state itself — in open violation of state law.
The governor and the general assembly are constitutionally required to prepare an annual budget. A statute, the State Budget Law, requires that the budget for the general revenue fund and other key funds be prepared in accordance with “generally accepted accounting principles for governments” and lists other specific accounting requirements designed to allow for a reasonable comparison of projected revenues to expenses.
But the state ignores those requirements, and tells us so. Each year the Illinois Auditor General and the Comptroller submit the state’s “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” for the prior year, known as a CAFR. For at least four years those statements said expressly that key parts of the budget did not comply with the State Budget Law. See for yourself here in the most recent Illinois CAFR. Go to pages 158-159 where it recites the law then says the state “has not presented revenue and expenditure estimates in accordance with these requirements.”
Understand that this is not about politics. Current Republican Comptroller Judy Topinka has said substantially the same thing in her CAFRs as Democrat Dan Hynes did before her in his. They are not to blame — it’s the legislature that fails to comply. Nor is this is about the state’s constitutional balanced budget requirement. That’s another discussion.
Given the central importance of the budget one has to wonder if the legality of the entire spending process eventually will be questioned.
Credit the Institute for Truth in Accounting and its founder, Sheila Weinberg, who initially brought this to my attention. They have complained about this for years.
In Illinois, nobody notices. Nobody cares.
Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints