State Comptroller: Illinois Will Fall $6.2B in Debt

Budget impasse could result in $12 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the fiscal year.

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In the wake of the state’s budget impasse, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger predicts overspending of $6.2 billion during the fiscal year that began last July.

Court orders and consent decrees have driven spending at the Department of Human Services and Department of Healthcare and Family Services. As a result, the state has been forced to cover costs for those departments.

“The only things we can pay are things that are required by the courts,” Munger’s Press Secretary Rich Carter told Ward Room

A combination of state and federal court orders and consent decrees have allowed for payment to these departments while Governor Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly remain in a deadlock over the state’s budget. Illinois has been without an official budget since July of last year.

If things remain the same and a budget isn’t passed, DHS and DHFS are slated to spend $1.2 billion more than was spent during the previous fiscal year. When this is added to lost revenue from the state’s income tax rollback last January, Munger anticipates a total deficit of $6.2 billion.

Rauner previously predicted a deficit of $6.16 billion in his budget proposal last February. Munger's prediction does not account for state services that currently aren't being paid for. This includes state funding for higher education, which cost roughly $2 billion last year.

Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills currently amounts to $7 billion. However, the state looks to gain an influx of money with tax season approaching. Nonetheless, Munger predicts that the state's bill backlog will be between $10 billion and $12 billion at the end of the fiscal year.

“The problem is, the longer this goes on, the longer it takes to make payment,” Carter said. “The longer this goes on, the more this bill backlog grows.”

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