Pop quiz: 176 billion is the difference between Wisconsin and Illinois by what measure?
No, no, no. it’s not the ten-year point total by which the Packers beat the Bears.
It’s the ten-year difference between the State of Wisconsin’s net income and the State of Illinois’ net loss.
That’s from each state’s CAFR, the annual reports based on audited, accrual-based financial statements of actual results, not on meaningless cash-based budget numbers. It’s called the “total primary change in net position,” which is comparable to changes in net worth – gain or loss – in private sector financial statements. The chart below shows the comparison based on 2019 CAFRs, which is the most recent year published for Illinois.
And as if to spike the ball, Wisconsin recently released its 2020 CAFR showing that it again improved its net position, this time by $120 million. (Illinois’ 2020 CAFR is not published yet.)
That’s a small number but still a remarkable achievement for 2020 since the fiscal year ran through June 30, which included part of the pandemic that seriously reduced income of most states.
Wisconsin also managed to contribute an additional $105 million to what is now a $761 million “rainy day fund.” Illinois has none. And it kept its state pension 100% funded. That pension covers all state and most local workers in Wisconsin outside of Milwaukee. The state has just four public pensions compared to Illinois’ 667.
One real estate market I follow is the area around Lake Geneva in southeastern Wisconsin. There’s almost no inventory for sale. It has all been snapped up, mostly, it seems, by Chicagoans.
-Mark Glennon and John Klingner