Finally the truth is being told by an Illinois constitutional officer. According to various news stories Comptroller Daniel Hynes, the state's chief financial officer, stated that the last four state budgets have been billions of dollars out-of-balanced. This is a financial problem and a constitutional quandary.
The state constitution requires a balanced budget. Does this mean that the Governor and legislature have been passing unconstitutional budgets? Have they been breaking the 1997 Truth in Budgeting Law that requires the budget be balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles?
Evidence of whether recent budgets have been balanced or not can be found in Illinois' annual audited financial report. According to the last financial statements issued by Comptroller Daniel Hynes' office, the 2006 "balanced" budget resulted in a deficit of $769 million. In July 2004, the legislature passed and the governor signed a "balanced" budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. Two years later, the FY 2005 audited financial statements reported that Illinois' primary government functions ran a deficit of more than $2.1 billion. Financial reports for the prior three fiscal years (FY2004, FY2003 and FY2002) also showed annual deficits of $2.5 billion, $4.1 billion and $4.2 billion respectively.
Governor Blagojevich may have signed unbalanced budgets, but this is practice has not been limited to the current administration. For more than twenty years the State's budgets have been "balanced," yet the state government of Illinois is in a financial hole of more than $44 billion. For decades Illinois governors and legislatures have circumvented the intent of a balanced budget by giving government benefits and services to current voters and members of powerful unions without providing adequate funding. The politicians get re-elected. Future taxpayers get the bill.
In addition to passing a budget, the citizens of Illinois should demand that the Governor and legislature follow the law of the state and pass a truly balanced budget.
Sheila A. Weinberg, founder & CEO Institute for Truth in Accounting