Dems Propose Borrowing to Pay Overdue Bills

With Illinois more than seven-billion dollars behind in paying contractors and vendors, a group of lawmakers is pushing to borrow money to help pay off those bills. Brian Mackey has more.

One of the ways Illinois has hobbled through its financial problems is by putting off paying money it owes to groups that do business with state government.

Judith Gethner represents hundreds of “human service” providers across Illinois — dealing with mental health, disabilities, domestic violence, foster care and the like. She gave an example of a group in a particularly tight squeeze.

GETHNER: “They are owed two million dollars, which is 20 percent of their budget. Their credit line is exhausted. And 10 of their staff have donated a week of their salary.”

Democratic lawmakers propose borrowing $4 billion to take a bite out of that backlog.

But Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican, says the state’s debt problem cannot be solved by incurring more debt.

TOPINKA: “You’re not going to clean off the mess. All you’ve done is just buy yourself some temporary warm fuzzies.”

Topinka says Illinois is beginning to recover from the backlog, albeit slowly. There are still more than 169,000 unpaid bills, but the state is caught up through July.

— Brian Mackey

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