Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Thursday
said the state’s bill backlog will grow throughout the fall and Illinois will enter the New Year with approximately $10 billion in unpaid invoices
, resulting in payment delays of at least six months.
The announcement follows last month’s passage of a stopgap budget, which authorized payments that were being delayed due to the state’s year-long budget impasse.
“While the stopgap is a positive step forward, it does not address our larger fiscal challenges. When we look at the numbers we are facing, the realities are sobering,” said Munger, noting the state is on pace to spend $2.5 billion more than it takes in the next six months. “Those severe cash shortages mean my office will continue to perform triage to help those most in need and protect our most critical services.”
While payments as a rule will continue to be treated on a first-in, first-out basis, priority will be given to:
- Nonprofits not covered by court orders or consent decrees that continued to provide services without an FY16 budget, including autism services, programs for the homeless, mental health services and others.
- Business owners who provided goods and services to the state in good faith last year without payment.
- Colleges, universities, and MAP Grant students who faced significant cuts and delays this past year.
In addition, Munger will continue her policy of treating compensation for state elected officials like all other payments. As a result, lawmakers and state constitutional office holders – including Munger – will continue to stand in line for payments with human service providers, small business owners, hospitals, schools and others.
“We’re looking at $10 billion in unpaid bills and vendors waiting 6 months or more to be paid. How can I in good conscience tell hospitals, schools, small businesses, nonprofits and others to get in line – and then walk politicians to the front?” Munger said. “It remains a matter of fundamental fairness. We are all in this together and we all should wait in line.”