The state can’t go bankrupt, but taxpayers who continue to live in Illinois will have to pay for the fiscal mess which, when combining the backlog of bills with the projected deficit, is more than $13 billion.
That’s according to Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger who said if the state had a credit card it would have already blown through its credit limit.
“The bottom line is that the state cannot go bankrupt,” Munger said Tuesday in Chicago, “and that we cannot print money. Taxpayers are going to have to pay this bill.”
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In the absence of a balanced budget from lawmakers Munger said court orders and consent decrees have the state on pace to a more than $6 billion deficit in the current fiscal year. That’s on top of the more than $7 billion in backlogged bills.
Munger said her office is prioritizing payments the best they can but equated it to a family’s checkbook.
“If you took six zeros off of all those numbers,” Munger said, “it would be like looking in your checkbook seeing $100 and having $7,000 worth of bills on your kitchen table and trying to decide what are you going to pay today.”
Munger said the pain felt by social service agencies and vendors in the seven-month-old budget impasse is well documented.
As to the fix, Munger says lawmakers need to get together, stop blaming each other and find solutions.
A spokesperson for Senate President John Cullerton says the Chicago Democrat “agrees that we need to find ways to work together, find common ground and build solutions.”
Munger said if increased taxes were the only solution that would double the individual income tax to nearly 8 percent.
“I don’t know any legislator who would vote for that,” Munger said, “and I don’t know many businesses that would stay in Illinois for that.”
Munger said there needs to be a combination of efficiencies, revenue and reforms for businesses who may be hit with a higher tax to stick around and create jobs.
Speaker Michael Madigan Spokesman Steve Brown said they’re open to ideas for efficiencies but “don’t bring on ideas that cut the savings and prosperity of middle class families in Illinois.”