* Comptroller Mendoza…
Just after midnight Thursday morning, Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office began transmitting $541 million in General State Aid to schools around the state. These are the funds that were supposed to go out on August 10th and 20th, but were delayed because the Governor vetoed the School Funding Bill.
The next payment of $264 million will go out tomorrow, Friday, to cover the first September payment due Sunday, Sept. 10. That means a total of $805 million will be going out to schools this week.
“I am grateful legislators were able to forge a bipartisan compromise to allow passage of the school funding bill which finally puts the state on a path to equitable school funding,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “The start of the school year should be about kids happy to see their classmates again and resuming the learning process — not worries about whether schools will have to close midyear. Parents, children and teachers can finally have the confidence and peace of mind to know that their schools will not only open on time, but more importantly, stay open for the full academic year.”
* Comptroller Mendoza…
Two months ago today, the General Assembly authorized Governor Bruce Rauner to refinance a portion of Illinois’ $15.4 billion bill backlog.
Two months later, his inaction on this common-sense budget mandate has cost taxpayers at least $120 million. Currently, the state is paying up to 12 percent interest on a large portion of its bill backlog at a cost of $2 million a day in late payment interest penalties.
This simple, bipartisan refinancing provision is no different than when a homeowner swaps out a higher mortgage rate for a lower one, but we have yet to see any movement on it from the Governor’s Office, Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Wednesday.
“Over 12 years, this refinancing plan will save taxpayers between $6 billion and $8 billion, or between $550 million and $650 million annually. Right now, we’re paying $2 million dollars a day for the Governor’s inaction,” she said. “This is money that will never go toward early education, to our public universities, toward job creation, or to our struggling social service providers. Stalling on the bonds is fiscally irresponsible and taxpayers should be outraged.”
By law, the refinancing must be applied to the state’s bill backlog. It will give relief to not only taxpayers, but also thousands of service providers and businesses awaiting payment from the state. Over the past two years without a budget, many entities owed money by the state have had to exhaust their lines of credit, lay off employees, turn away Illinois citizens in need of services and, in some cases, close for good.
Last week, the Comptroller visited the Orthopaedic Institute of Southern Illinois in part because they are owed about $6 million from the Group Health Insurance program that covers public employees, including university employees.
The state’s backlog of bills is about $15 billion. Of that, about $5 billion are bills from group health. Those bills, along with other medical bills, incur some of the highest late interest penalties.
“Three days’ worth of late payment interest penalties could pay off the Group Health Insurance bills owed to the Orthopaedic Institute of Southern Illinois,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “Until Governor Rauner moves to refinance this debt, Illinois is burning money that could be used to pay businesses and providers what they are owed and inject stability into the Illinois economy.”
* Illinois Officials Push Governor Rauner to Sell Bonds to Cut Unpaid Bills
* Illinois Democrats: Borrow money for past due bills