Illinois bill backlog balloons to $14.3 billion

May 17, 2017

Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills skyrocketed to $14.3 billion Wednesday after the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget submitted more than $1 billion in vouchers this week, according to Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office.

Mendoza, a Democrat, said in a statement that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has been withholding bills at state agencies in an attempt “to mask some of the damage caused by the Governor’s failure to fulfill his constitutional duty and present a balanced budget.”

The comptroller’s office says the amount of debt held at state agencies now accounts for close to half — $6.6 billion — of the total backlog, and “is nearing the point of having tripled in just the past two years.”

“At a time when Senators from both sides of the aisle are working together to reach a deal, this administration has been keeping them in the dark about the true extent of the bill backlog,” Mendoza said. “This action makes obvious the urgent need for more sunlight on the state’s bill backlog. It’s time for a full accounting of what the state owes to schools, social service organizations, health care providers, vendors, small business owners and others across the state.”

Legislation passed last month by the House, HB 3649 or the Debt Transparency Act, would require state agencies to report the unpaid bills they hold as well as the estimated amount of late interest penalties that would have to be paid on those bills.

Mendoza’s office projects Illinois taxpayers will owe at least $800 million in late interest fees by the end of the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

Under current state law, government agencies only are required to report the aggregate amount of liabilities they held at the end of the previous fiscal year on Oct. 1.

HB 3649 could be called for a vote by the Senate Wednesday after passing the House on April 28 in a 70-40 vote.

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