Report details state budget challenges

Mar 12, 2014

Illinois lawmakers have already begun debating a new state spending plan. A report out this week looking back at Illinois' last, completed fiscal year shows just how bogged down the budget has been. 

 When Illinois wrapped up its fiscal year last June, it was with a deficit of nearly 48 billion dollars -- an amount that steadily grew over time.

Since the recession, state legislators made efforts to cut expenses (some say they've done too much of that, others say not enough).

 Either way, it's a big number to grapple with.

And the Auditor General says Illinois has lacked the proper financial reporting processes to keep track of it.

In his latest comprehensive overview of the state's finances, Auditor General Bill Holland says Illinois government relies too heavily on after-the-fact reviews when it comes to financial reporting. Holland writes more needs to be done to combat the risk of state agencies submitting inaccurate information.  And, he says, various agencies were late submitting their financial statements --- something he says could jeopardize federal funding. 

 Still, Holland says there has been improvement.   The governor's office says it's working to implement a new accounting system, that it plans to use a new software program, and that it's increasing training.All of that may help to improve the financial reporting side of things, but lawmakers will still have difficult negotiations ahead.Illinois' income tax hike is set to rollback in less than 9 months, and that could signal more cuts or a deeper deficit.