Today’s number: $700 million
Monday, Jan 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller
The state has a record stack of unpaid bills that’s expected to hit $15 billion by July if nothing is done, and it must fork over interest when it’s late paying them. Putting a hard dollar figure on those interest costs is difficult, however.
A bipartisan budget-forecasting group says the state owes at least $370 million alone in interest on bills for state employee health care during the 18-month stalemate. The Democratic comptroller’s office estimates the state will have to pay $700 million on interest based on what it’s spending in the current budget year, a number more than twice the state’s previous high water mark. The Republican governor’s budget office declined to provide any estimate, saying it “cannot speculate” on future costs. […]
Rauner’s office has declined to put a figure on what the state will owe in interest due to the impasse. And until early December, Rauner was able to make that stick because the comptroller, Leslie Geissler Munger, would not provide an estimate either. Rauner appointed Munger to the job, but she lost to Democrat Susana Mendoza in the November election.
Mendoza’s office puts the state’s interest costs from this year’s budget at $700 million, acknowledging the ultimate figure is a “moving target” depending on how much more the state spends in the coming months.
The estimate is based in part on last year’s spending, when state government operated without a full budget but continued to spend money based on court orders, laws and spending agreements. Illinois is in a similar position this year, as a temporary six-month budget expired with the new year, once again leaving universities, social service providers and prisons without funding.
Not that I’m all that confident about this particular comptroller’s projections, but the governor’s budget office does cost projections all the time, so it’s kinda weird that they won’t do projections on this topic.
Every year, for instance, it has done a five-year cost and revenue projection. It also projects costs in every budget it puts together. And it only recently projected next fiscal year’s cost for the Senate’s grand bargain.