Illinois budget woes among worst in nation

Illinois finally ended a two-year-long budget stalemate last July, but despite borrowing $1.5 billion to try and pay down unpaid bills, it still ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of expenses outpacing revenues, according to a recently released study from Pew Charitable Trusts.

New Jersey had the largest deficit, with revenue able to cover only 92.2 percent of  expenses, followed by Illinois at 94.2 percent. They were the only two states with aggregate shortfalls exceeding 5 percent of total expenses, and the only ones with annual deficits in each of the 15 years.

Illinois and New Jersey are joined by eight other states that are spending more than they take in. Those are: Kentucky, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and California.

Meantime, nearby Iowa showed a relatively healthy balance, with revenues exceeding expenses by 3.3 percent.

 

A state whose annual income falls short generally turns to a mix of reserves, debt, and deferred payments on its obligations to get by. Conversely, when a state’s annual income surpasses expenses, the surplus can be directed toward nonrecurring purposes, including paying down obligations or bolstering reserves—or new or expanded services that create recurring bills.