Topinka says state's budget problem will worsen

July 1, 2013 3:34:47 PM PDT
The 2013 fiscal year has ended and Illinois more than $6 billion in the red. State officials say that number is expected to continue to grow.

"This is how much has been expended to date, almost all of it. Frankly, there's not that much left," said Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

Topinka says over $74 thousand in unpaid bills contribute to the state's ongoing budget problem. She says she expects to see the numbers increase in the coming weeks and months.

"Oh, I'd say about $7 billion in August. By the time you get to December, you will be up to about $9 billion which is where we were same time, same station last year," Topinka said.

But Governor Pat Quinn says the amount in unpaid bills will fall again when taxes are collected next Spring. An administration spokesman projected that "the backlog a year from now should be down to $5.9 billion."

And it could fall even more if the General Assembly passes pension reform, reducing the amount the state pays annually for retiree benefits.

However, Quinn's primary opponent Bill Daley suggested one reason a pension bill has not been passed is because lawmakers accept campaign contributions during legislative sessions- something he wants banned.

"Everybody in there is trying to affect the legislation, affect the game during the legislative session. Whether it's unions...and it's all legal. But it's part of the game," said Daley, who is a candidate for governor.

In the meantime, the comptroller continues to answer hundreds of calls from the state's creditors, as she's done for over two years.

"What are you going to tell the people when they call in? 'Well, the legislature said we're supposed to get this!' Well, I'm telling you we don't have the money to pay for it," said Topinka.


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