As if the news weren’t bad enough for Illinois ...
Along comes a report that concludes the Land of Lincoln is more broke than any of the 49 other U.S. states.
A statewide audit released last week shows that Illinois owes $37.9 billion more than it has in total assets, including taxpayer money, investments and property.
What this means is, if state government were to sell off all of its property, cash in on its investments, and add that revenue to all of this month’s tax collections, then paid all its employees for work completed, and tried to pay off all its other debt, it would come up almost $40 billion short.
We knew things were bad, but, well ... wow!
Only three other states in the country have more debt than total assets. The second most broke state in the U.S., New Jersey, is better off than Illinois by about $10 billion.
When New Jersey’s state slogan is, “Thank God for Illinois,” you know things are bad here.
The report by Illinois Statehouse News blames Illinois’ poor fiscal position on mismanagement and the global recession. Of course, every other state in the country has gone through the same global recession, so ...
We know, we know. It’s not news that Illinois’ finances have been grossly mismanaged by our elected state officials. But as each new piece of information is released, we get a better perspective as to just how bad off we are.
Earlier this year, Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly agreed on what has been billed as temporary personal and corporate income tax increases. The tax increases were to help us pay down the debt while it got its fiscal house in order.
But Quinn and lawmakers then proceeded to pass a fiscal 2012 budget that won’t pay down debt, even with the extra tax revenue. Anyone still believe those tax hikes are temporary?
What this all means long term is that, as the economy eventually turns around and businesses big and small start adding jobs and growing revenue, Illinois is not going to be an attractive option.
That is, not until we elect leaders who go to Springfield and make the tough, but smart, fiscal decisions.