* The state’s bill backlog as of yesterday was $14.5 billion.
That backlog is “headed in the direction of being a factor that just by itself really threatens the sort of financial foundations of the state,” Ted Hampton, Moody’s lead analyst on Illinois, said in an interview, citing litigation from those demanding payment. “There is kind of an uncertain but very real legal and political limit to the state’s ability to keep deferring payments.”
“We are probably approaching that point of impaired ability to function at basic level,” said John Humphrey, the Chicago-based head of credit research for Gurtin Municipal Bond Management, which oversees about $10.1 billion of state and local debt and has steered clear of Illinois. “We’ve already probably passed that point. We haven’t seen this in a modern state before.” […]
Bond-rating companies have warned of further ratings cuts, signaling that Illinois could be the first state since at least 1970 to lose investment-grade status. […]
Despite the gridlock, Illinois hasn’t missed any bond payments and state law requires it to continue making monthly deposits to its debt-service funds. Still, the fighting has impeded any progress on bolstering a state retirement system that has more than $129 billion of unfunded liabilities — a source of stress that has helped drive its rating down.