ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The state has paid off nearly $6 billion in unpaid bills, dropping its backlog to the lowest amount in 5 years.
Although Illinois’ backlog of bills has dropped in the last few years, some lawmakers say this is only a short term fix to a bigger budget problem.
Governor Pat Quinn announced the state’s debt is down to 3.9 billion compared to nearly 10 billion in 2010. Quinn says this comes as a result of closing some state facilities as well as the temporary income tax hike. Some lawmakers feel that not enough of that money brought in by the tax hike went to pay off our bills, but both our local state senators say paying off the backlog now is something that needs to be done.
“Vendors and companies that do business with the state are getting paid on time. they're getting paid in a 30-60 day window, instead of 6 months as was the case a year or two ago,” said Sen. Steve Stadelman (D) 34th District.
“We need to get our bills paid off because we're paying over ten million dollars just in interest payments to these vendors, well that's money that could be going to education, it could be going to roads, it could be going to other things," Sen. Dave Syverson (R) 35th District says.
Syverson says even if the state falls behind on payments to places like hospitals, he says they may not complain because they’re actually getting more money in the end due to interest and taxpayers are footing that bill.
Stadelman says although some bills are paid off, the state still has a long way to go but this is progress. Syverson says lawmakers will need to figure out other ways to pay off debt before they’re left in a hole come January.