A recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) that finds Illinois cut its general funds deficit by almost half in fiscal year 2017 has left Dixon Mayor Liandro “Li” Arellano with almost as many concerns as the report provides answers.
“The state has been deficit spending for a long, long time and those debts have piled up over the years,” Arellano told the DeKalb Times. “It just comes from a culture of debt spending. It’s brought us to shortening services while increasing taxes, which is where we sit today.”
Even in the face of the new CAFR numbers, Arellano wonders if anything about Illinois' fiscal outlook has really changed.
Dixon Mayor Liandro "Li" Arellano
“I think where we are right now, they’re doing short-term solutions,” Arellano said. “You already have some very high taxes in the state and they’re increasing those to try and balance the budget. The problem is as outmigration nets out and there are fewer and fewer taxpayers to carry that burden, there will be diminishing returns.”
According to the CAFR, the state’s general funds deficit fell from $14,612 billion to $7.763 billion in fiscal year 2017, with Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza attributing the accomplishment to a refinancing of state debt from high-interest to low-interest payments. Arellano argues that for too long, state taxpayers have been forced to pay a steep price for all the deception coming from lawmakers in Springfield.
“It’s one of the reasons why pensions now take up such a large portion of the state budget,” Arellano said. “That affects the ability to give good government service while still protecting the taxpayer. It just comes from a culture of debt spending.”
Arellano laments that the state of Illinois is still paying for all the government dysfunction.
“In the long game, as we lose congressional seats, as we lose influence and as we lose population, and we still have all the government facilities and services to pay for, it’s going to boomerang back around in the future,” Arellano said. “That’s one of Illinois’ trademarks, which is short-term solutions to make the current politicians look good, and the long game hurts us.”
CAFR reports are prepared from Mendoza’s office from state agency submissions that, by law, are audited by the Auditor General’s Office.