Illinois Comptroller: State getting caught up on its bills

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 4:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KWQC) - The backlog of bills is being brought under control according to Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza. She says the state’s backlog of unpaid bills has fallen from $16.7 billion in 2017 to $3.5 billion this week, which means most vendors and providers of goods and services are getting paid without delay.

For the first time in many years, the State of Illinois can pay its bills as they come in.

There remains $3.5 billion in interfund transfers owed to other branches of government, group health insurance bills with limited appropriation authority, and invoices at state agencies that have not yet been forwarded to the Office of Comptroller for payment. Mendoza said when the backlog gets down to $3 billion in a $42 billion budget, that’s essentially within the 30-day payment cycle common in private industry.

“This is a remarkable day that I have been working toward since I took office in December, 2016 amid the budget impasse when the previous administration was paying nursing homes and hospice centers up to a year late and they let the backlog climb to $16.7 billion,” Comptroller Mendoza said.

Paying down the backlog has been aided by steady revenue receipts, even during the pandemic, but Mendoza cautioned that today’s low bill backlog does not mean the state has overcome its fiscal challenges. The backlog does not reflect the more than $3.6 billion Illinois borrowed mainly from the Federal Reserve to pay state medical bills during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic. She again stressed that American Rescue Plan funds must be used first to pay back that borrowing.

The Comptroller’s Office has informed bond rating agencies of this positive development. Mendoza has asked the agencies to consider these factors when evaluating Illinois’ credit worthiness.

The Illinois Comptroller’s website has more information about the history of the state’s bill backlog.

Find the most recent Debt Transparency Report here.

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