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State

Illinois’ past-due bills climb once more

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills is growing once more and could climb to $9 billion by the end of December, officials said.

“The state’s bill backlog fluctuates throughout the year, with numbers dropping in high-revenue months and rising in leaner seasons,” said Brad Hahn, a spokesman for Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

The backlog ebbs and flows throughout the fiscal year, spiking before tax receipts come in during the spring.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported the current backlog stands at about $8.8 billion – up from $6.1 billion by the end of the state’s fiscal year in June. The balance fell to $5.8 billion in May, as the state benefited from extra tax revenue as people paid income taxes.

If the balance climbs to $9 billion in December, it’d be the second year in a row that the figure climbed so high.

“Although revenues have been up, we’re still in about the same place as far as bill backlog,” Hahn said. “Essentially, the state is treading water.”

Saddled with an unfunded pension liability that stands at about $100 billion, Illinois for several years has been delaying the payment of billions of dollars in bills for months at a time. This has caused schools, hospitals and social service agencies to borrow money, cut jobs and services and take on personal debt.

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