FILE - Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to reporters in the state Capitol in Springfield, Ill., on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. 

(The Center Square) – A new budget year begins Friday for the state of Illinois, but a look back at the recently revealed 2021 budget report shows some ominous signs.

The Auditor General released how the state spent taxpayer money for the 2021 fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has boasted about balancing the state budget during his term in office, but there are many who say that just is not true. One of them is Loyola University instructor Bill Bergman.

“Unfortunately, the state government’s finances continued to deteriorate as of the year that ended a year ago despite the federal infusion of money,” Bergman said.

The Auditor General’s review of Illinois’ five state-run pension funds shows that statutory pension payments over the past few years have been $4 billion short of what should have been put in.

Despite the budget requiring annual pension system contributions to reach 90% funded by 2045, the amount is inadequate to fully address the state’s pension burden.

“We have had four straight years of $4 billion declines in the unrestricted net position, which is like a loss, even as the state claims it's a balanced budget,” Bergman said.

As for the upcoming 2023 fiscal year budget, Pritzker claimed it would achieve a $1.7 billion surplus this year. Illinois Policy reports that documents released by his budget office show Illinois would end the year with a $1.5 billion deficit.

The Volcker Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes responsible government spending, said Illinois is vulnerable for budget stresses when federal American Rescue Plan Act tax dollars run out.

“Illinois is very flush with funds now, but Illinois has a long history of using one-time actions, budget gimmicks, budget maneuvers to balance the budget,” said Bill Glasgall, director of public finance for the alliance.

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.