Illinois' Late Bills Balloon Bigger

Backlog of the state’s unpaid bills once again starting to rise

After months of making at least some headway, the backlog of the state’s unpaid bills is shooting upward again.

The Springfield State Journal-Register reports that after falling to $5.8 billion as recently as May, the total amount of Illinois’ unpaid bills has climbed back up to about $8.8 billion. Worse, the Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office says it could reach $9 billion by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the state reported it expected to receive a $369 million jump in tax revenue for the year, due in part to a post-recession surge in car sales and a better-than-anticipated start to income tax collections.

In late May, the balance fell to $5.8 billion and vendors were waiting about two months to be paid. It climbed to $6.1 billion by the end of the state's fiscal year in June.

Nevertheless, the state’s notorious fiscal picture continues to darken. Besides being late in paying its bills, Illinois has both the worst credit rating in the nation and the most underfunded pension system.

For many in Illinois, the state’s inability to pay its bills hits particularly hard. About 25,000 workers have had to wait for pay raises they were due under their previous labor agreement with the state.

Meanwhile, late healthcare payments are placing heavy burdens on retirees, while social service providers around the state continue to see their budgets slashed from late or non-existent payments.

If the Comptroller’s office estimates are correct, it will be the second year in a row the state ended the calendar year hitting $9 billion in unpaid bills.

Contact Us