State Comptroller: Illinois Bill Backlog Could Reach $10 Billion by June

The state’s budget stalemate continues to affect state universities, colleges and social services

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger told a Senate appropriations committee Thursday that the state’s backlog of overdue bills could reach $10 billion by June.

Munger explained that the state’s $7.6 billion bill backlog only accounts for money the state is required to pay by court order.

But, the state is also on the hook for an additional $1.25 billion owed to contracted vendors. These services are subject to consent decrees.

The comptroller noted that those bills are largely for higher education and social services. A portion of the money is owed to the Monetary Award Program which issues grants for college students based on income.

On Wednesday, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary James Dimas told legislators that the state owes a backlog of $168 million to over 800 contractors.

As a result of Illinois’ budget stalemate, the state has no authority to spend money. The state has been without a budget since July of last year. The impasse has been typified by a battle nine-month-long between Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers.

Rauner has proposed a budget plan for 2017, although there is still no way to cover spending for the current fiscal year.

On Thursday, Senate Democrats passed a measure calling for $3.8 billion in spending for higher education, cancer research and home care for seniors.

Tim Nuding, Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, called the measure a “cruel hoax” and explained that there wasn’t enough money in the state’s coffers to fund the programs.

Rauner has previously made clear his intention to veto this type of piecemeal spending.

Although the measure was passed, the funds are unlikely to be distributed as a result of the stalemate. 

In the wake of the impasse, Northeastern Illinois University has announced massive cuts and furlough days. The university was also downgraded by Moody's last month.

Chicago State University will end their school year early to save money. The university also sent layoff notices to all of its employees last month.

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