Illinois comptroller: Unpaid bills could grow to $8.5B by year’s end

Illinois comptroller: Unpaid bills could grow to $8.5B by year’s end

IOUs continue to flow from a broken state government.

When it comes to a state budget, waiting games can be costly. The schools, hospitals, businesses and social-service providers waiting months for payments from the state of Illinois know this better than anyone.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger held a press conference Sept. 9 to call attention to the sorry state of Illinois’ bill backlog.

Unpaid bills currently stand at $6 billion and will rise to $8.5 billion by the end of the year should the Illinois General Assembly fail to pass a balanced budget, according to Munger.

The state is in its 10th week without a budget, but that doesn’t mean spending has stopped.

“We estimate we are paying about 90 percent of bills that were covered under last year’s budget,” Munger said.

Court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations require Munger’s office to make payments for things ranging from social services, to Medicaid, to debt service, retirement payments, lawmaker salaries and more.

There’s just one problem: “Illinois does not have the money to back up what is being committed,” the comptroller said.

Illinois state spending is on autopilot without enough fuel in the tank. Service providers will continue to wait longer and longer for payments the state might not have the funds to pay.

“The situation will become more dire every day we go on, the longer we try to fund state services without a budget in place,” Munger said.

As leaders in the Illinois General Assembly continue to ignore Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pleas for systemic reform, there’s no clear end in sight. The waiting game rages on.

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