The state still has trouble paying its bills. The comptroller’s office is sitting on 142,000 bills worth $4.9 billion, and when you include bills that state agencies haven’t yet sent through for payment, the figure is $7.4 billion. The holdup is in the name of “cash management,” meaning the state doesn’t have the money to pay the bills.
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“We owe almost one-quarter of our state budget in unpaid bills. We are asking our vendors and our service organizations to wait months to be paid. We are asking local government and our agencies to reduce expenses and to do with less,” Comptroller Leslie G. Munger testified Thursday at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in Chicago.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), the chairman of the committee, noted that in a $36 billion state budget, it’s not unreasonable to have $3 billion in bills unpaid at any given time, since that would be a 30-day cycle, “but all that other stuff beyond is something we really need to focus on,” he said.
The bills in the comptroller’s office date to Dec. 30, but some of the bills being held at agencies are for money that hasn’t even been budgeted. The state is paying $160 million a year in interest to creditors who wait more than 90 days.
Asked what effect the income tax reduction at the start of the year has had on the state’s bill paying ability, “It’s certainly impacted the revenue that we have coming into the state on a monthly basis,” Munger said.