This study examines the historical development during the 20th century of the totals column reported on the financial statement that reported assets, liabilities, and equity for all funds of state and local governments (SLGs) within the United States. This research documents the evolution of accounting standards that addressed the totals column. SLG accounting professionals and standards-setters debated whether it was appropriate for SLGs to report a combined totals column throughout the century. The totals column was optional or forbidden in some reporting standards. Other SLG standards permitted a totals column, but always with reservation. A consolidated totals column was never acceptable until Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement 34. Statement 34, issued in 1999, required SLGs to report all primary government funds in a single consolidated totals column on a new Statement of Net Assets. The Statement of Net Assets was the first time users were able to assess the financial position of the SLG primary government in a single consolidated column. This study provides the historical developments that led to this major revision in SLG financial reporting.

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