Illinois’ comptroller is hoping the governor addresses Medicaid and pension reforms in his budget address midweek. Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka says the governor must address those issues in order to right the state’s fiscal ship. Topinka, responsible for paying the state’s bills to vendors who, in some cases, haven’t been paid in five months, says she needs the governor’s help in getting the bills paid.
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“I also want him to start addressing the issue of pensions, the issue of Medicaid which is eating us out of house and home. We cannot sustain that. Give me a chance to catch up, that’s all I ask,” Topinka said. Topinka hopes that the governor will take seriously the state’s finances and how things can be fixed when he gives his budget address Wednesday. “I want him to really look at the budget and make it realistic,” Topinka said. “I don’t want pie in the sky. I don’t want to hear about all sorts of new programs that are going to cost the state money when we can’t pay for old programs.” The governor has said his budget address will include talk of cuts to Medicaid, pension reform for state employees as well as pension reforms for many Illinois teachers. In that case, the governor is looking to hand off retirement benefit payments to school districts, which say they are already strapped for cash and can’t foot the bill.