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Comptroller Topinka estimates bill backlog at $8.5 billion

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012

* From the comptroller’s latest quarterly report

One year after illinois raised individual and corporate income tax rates, the state remains in a precarious fiscal position with persistent payment delays – and the situation is unlikely to significantly improve in the near-term.

The backlog of unpaid bills from the General Funds in the Comptroller’s office (ioC) alone stood at $4.273 billion at the end of this quarter – and that number only tells part of the story. Specifically, the total accounts only for what has been submitted to the Comptroller’s office for payment, and not what is being held by state agencies. For example, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services is holding an estimated $2 billion in Medicaid bills alone, which was not the case last year.

When those totals are combined with other obligations, including corporate tax refunds, employee health insurance and interfund borrowing repayments due to other state funds, the Comptroller estimates the backlog to be around $8.5 billion.

in addition, the level of unpaid General Funds bills is up several hundred million dollars since the end of last quarter, and has continually exceeded $3 billion over the last year. the cash flow situation is unlikely to improve in the near-term, as the state this year will make its pension payments with current revenues and not bonds, and Medicaid spending is projected to dramatically increase in the next six months.

* However, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office recently put the bill payment backlog at $7 billion

* $3.5 billion in vouchers held at the Comptroller’s Office
* $2 billion in Medicaid vouchers held at agencies to manage payment cycle
* $0.5 billion in business tax refunds
* $1 billion in group health insurance premiums.

Since that was written earlier this month, vouchers held at the comptroller’s office have apparently increased by $700 million. So, there’s not much difference between the two.

* In other news, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attempted again to deflect negative public opinion away from himself by whacking Illinois. Walker’s opponents just gathered a million signatures in a recall attempt, but Walker says Illinois is worse. Watch

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:01 pm:

    What’s $1.5 Billion among friends …


  2. - 3rd Generation Chicago - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:16 pm:

    This is hurting a lot of health care facilities and possibly ruining their credit with vendors. How many vendors are these facilities paying late fees to? And how much $4 in late fees will be passed along to us, as consumers?


  3. - 3rd Generation Chicago - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:17 pm:

    Meant $$ instead of $4


  4. - mark walker - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:26 pm:

    Thank you Judy for just the facts, Ma’am.

    For not setting up a gubernatorial campaign,
    for not encouraging outside agencies to downgrade our debt,
    for not telling others to disregard what the governor’s financial staff says,
    for not misstating history,
    for not reiterating artificially inflated pension numbers,
    for not creating talking points for otherwise ignorant Congressional candidates,

    for being simply a responsible public servant.


  5. - Dirt Digger - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    In fairness to Walker, there is probably a good argument that he is less unpopular within Wisconsin than Quinn is within Illinois.


  6. - mark walker - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:32 pm:

    I wonder if Scott Walker reported Fox’s in-kind contribution to his campaign.


  7. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:42 pm:

    So, I certainly feel better about our situation here in Illinois after hearing about Walker’s trevails. I can sleep easy now.

    Wisconsin is about to spend what is reported to be about $9Mill in this recall event. Earlier attempts to unseat incumbents failed to unseat the GOP as the majority in the State Senate. This in a state arguably as blue as Illinois, if not more so.

    One of the first to put her name in the ring is a perennial candidate who has been beaten in her attempts at elected office including the AG. She was beaten in districts where democrats are the majority. I also notice the sky hasn’t fallen on Wisconsin since Walker was elected. Reports of the demise of the education system if his reforms were put into place seem to be missing from the press.

    The election to see if anyone is going to replace Walker will be the prime indicator of the views of the majority in Wisc, not the number of signatures collected on recall petitions.


  8. - Ahoy - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:57 pm:

    Glad the legislature passed a budget that allows them to maybe think about paying down debt IF there is a surplus. Nothing like making businesses and human service providers an afterthought.


  9. - Generation X - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 1:58 pm:

    Ironic that Walker faces such ire from the Unions in Wisconsin while here in Illinois, all out warfare has been declared on collective bargaining with only a whimper from organized labor here.


  10. - Bill F - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 2:02 pm:

    Can’t even watch that garbage. “Some union leaders with BIG TIME help from out of state…”

    At least there’s no pretense of objectivity by FNC’s “journalists”.


  11. - wordsllinger - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 2:09 pm:

    That’s what happens when you make your pension contribution, I guess.


  12. - J.D. - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 2:21 pm:

    Generation X - Heh…if Brady had been elected governor instead of Quinn, and Illinois was in the exact same position it is now, it would be World War 6 here.

    No matter what anyone says about Quinn, I am glad I vote for him, and would do so again in a heartbeat for that very reason.


  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 2:23 pm:

    ===and Illinois was in the exact same position it is now===

    We wouldn’t be in the same position we’re in now because there would’ve been no $7 billion in revenue from a tax hike.


  14. - bored now - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 2:36 pm:

    rich, is there an estimate on where illinois would be (iow, how much debt) now if the tax hike hadn’t passed?


  15. - RMWStanford - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 2:55 pm:

    The ultimate solution to our state’s fiscal policy is economic growth. If the state’s economy recovers many of these problems will be corrected.


  16. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 3:13 pm:

    I think most of Walker’s problems stem from the fact that he said nothing about future plans during his campaign for office. It all came out of nowhere, after he had taken office Even after the unions had made concessions that saved the state a lot of money. Walker’s biggest sin is more about fraud and arrogance than anything else. I mean would the man have been elected if he told the voters exactly what he was gonna do? Somehow, I don’t think so.


  17. - Shock & Awww(e) - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 3:49 pm:

    Wow. So we’ve made almost no progress on this front after 2 years, a tax increase and fee hikes by multiple agencies.

    1/06/10: IL owes $8.75 billion in bill backlog https://capitolfax.com/2010/01/06/hynes-effective-bill-backlog-now-almost-9-billion/

    1/18/12: IL owes $8.5 billion in bill backlog

    Sounds like a plan.


  18. - Shock & Awww(e) - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 3:53 pm:

    From a 10/15/11 AP story on the Huffington Post:

    “Leigh Ann Stephens wrote a letter in August ‘asking, pleading’ for $50,000 the state owed to the DuPage Center for Independent Living, where she is executive director. It was the third time in two years that she had sent a hardship letter warning the center, which helps people with disabilities live outside of costly nursing homes, would close if it wasn’t paid.”

    But we’re going to close state facilities and rely on these service providers to fill the gaps?

    Ummmmm………


  19. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 4:08 pm:

    We need a forensic Audit of something or other. Is Wisconsin in fiscally better shape (linked to Walker’s policies) than it was before?


  20. - Union - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 4:11 pm:

    The State either passes the 8.5 Billion dollar bond issue to pay the old bills, or increases taxes again to get 8.5 Billion for 1 year, or make 8.5 Billion dollars in cuts in next years budget to pay off the back bills. Which is it? oh wait….lets kick the can….that’s easier.


  21. - reformer - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 6:18 pm:

    Union
    Those who insist we pay off our bills — without borrowing or tax hikes — ought to have the decency to specify exactly where $8.5 billion should be slashed from the budget.


  22. - JoeZ - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 7:36 pm:

    Seems to me that Walker was just stating the facts about IL. He’s right about us. It wasn’t even really sensationalistic.


  23. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 9:46 pm:

    Amazing that on the day Rich Miller puts up a banner demonizing censorship, he deletes a totally harmless post about his cherry picking of Scott Walker’s interview. Ironic and sad at the same time…..


  24. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 10:49 pm:

    Hey, Anon 9:46, you’re a brave guy to take Rich on so openly. Oh, wait, you did it anonymously, not openly, didn’t you. Sign your name so we can evaluate the value of your comments.


  25. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 18, 12 @ 11:16 pm:

    I probably don’t have to say it, but Anon 9:46 obviously isn’t the REAL Anon. If Rich deleted a comment, THIS Anon believes that there was a valid reason for it.


  26. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 19, 12 @ 6:44 am:

    Anon 9:46, censorship is a government act. What I did was to edit your goofy comment out of a privately owned site. Big difference.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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