Without a budget, Illinois backlog of bills could reach $10 billion by December

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois’ comptroller said if there’s no deal to balance the state budget, the state’s backlog of bills by the end of the year could exceed $10 billion.

Comptroller Leslie Munger said today the recently passed stopgap budget is helping pay some bills, but it’s not balanced and the state’s cash flow is still extremely limited. Munger said her office is prioritizing debt service, general state aid to schools, court orders and consent decrees. Most everything else will be first in, first out. Munger said the reality continues to be sobering.

“We are on track to spend $2.5 billion more than we bring in over the next six months,” she said. “We expect to end the calendar year in December with approximately $10 billion in unpaid bills, which is about $3 billion more than we had last year at the same time.”

Munger said the tax base needs to grow, and there needs to be savings found through pension and procurement reform.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers and constitutional officers who just got their first paycheck in more than two months can expect to continue waiting for future paychecks, and the delay could be longer than before.

Munger said she will continue to hold elected official pay, including her own, in with the backlog of bills. She said April’s pay just came through in early July, but lawmakers could see their pay delayed even longer if there’s no action on balancing the state’s budget.

“The May paycheck will probably be paid, based on predicted revenue, roughly the end of August or the beginning of September,” she said. “The June payment could be four to five months behind.”

Munger said she can’t in good conscience expedite pay for lawmakers when there are social service providers and vendors who haven’t been paid in more than a year.