CHICAGO — Illinois’ overall fiscal health, reflected in the value of its net assets, worsened in fiscal 2012 by $3 billion, pushing it to negative $46.6 billion, according to a new report from state Auditor General William Holland.
The figure, for the period ending June 30 2012, remains the worst among the five states that are in the red in the category of net assets of governmental activities, though pace of deterioration was cut in half from a $6 billion decline in fiscal 2011.
The deficit stood at $17.6 billion in fiscal 2005, then slid to $29.5 billion in 2009, $37.5 billion in fiscal 2010, and $43.6 billion in fiscal 2011.
The deficit in the statement of net assets reflects the difference between Illinois’ liabilities and assets on an accrual basis. The figure takes into account the state’s accounts payable and debt obligations, including outstanding bonds and pension obligations and its cash, investments and property.
The figures provide a wider view of a state’s overall long-term fiscal health than the snapshot provided by annual budget numbers.
“Over time, increases and decreases in net assets measure whether the state’s financial position is improving or deteriorating,” the audit says.
Holland’s office audited the state’s CAFR, which is prepared by the comptroller’s office.
The net assets figure illustrates the severity of the state’s daunting fiscal challenges as lawmakers attempt to tackle pension reforms aimed at erasing $95 billion of unfunded pension liabilities. The state is on course to close the books on fiscal 2013 this month with $6 billion of unpaid bills and faces the partial expiration of a 2011 income tax hike in fiscal 2015.
The audit notes that the state’s inability to pay its bills on time in fiscal 2012 resulted in $136 million of interest payments.
New Jersey follows Illinois with a $40.4 billion net assets deficit, according to Holland’s office. Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut also remain in the red.
The annual general fund deficit increased by $1.1 billion in fiscal 2012, bringing it to $9.1 billion. The increase marked a reversal from a year earlier when the deficit decreased by $738 million between fiscal 2010 and 2011, to $8 billion from $8.8 billion.
The state enters the market Wednesday to sell $1.3 billion of general obligation bonds to raise new money for its capital projects. The state was hit earlier this month with two rating downgrades following the General Assembly’s failure to approve pension reforms. Its GO bond rating in now in the low-single A category and carries a negative outlook from all three agencies.