Illinois' unpaid bills will cost taxpayers $1.1B in late-payment penalties, report says

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The backlog of the state's unpaid bills now tops $1.1 billion in late-interest payment penalties, according to a new report by the Illinois state comptroller. (WLS)

A new report by the Illinois state comptroller paints an even more bleak picture of the Illinois' finances than previously thought.

The state went without a budget during Gov. Bruce Rauner's first two and half years in office.

As a result, the backlog of the state's unpaid bills now tops $1.1 billion in late-interest payment penalties.

"It's never been this polarized or probably this partisan politically as it is today," said former Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who served from 1994-2004.

"Never seen it like this, no, see, never seen it like this it's terrible, it's really terrible," said former Democratic state Sen. Emil Jones Jr., who served from 1983-2009, and was Senate president from 2003 to the end of his term.

The report shows late payment interest penalties now total $1.139 billion -- that's $100 million more than the combined $1.039 billion racked up during the four previous administrations between 1998 and 2015.

"Illinois' inaction and political gridlock has a price, it's billions of dollars, billions of dollars that can be used for education, or law enforcement or mental health services, or paying down public pension debt," Dillard said.

"Well, it's going to be very difficult to come to an agreement on the budget, because it's a gubernatorial election year," Jones said.

Dillard said part of the problem is Gov. Rauner's massive war chest which has reduced his need to build coalitions. He says the same situation could result if J.B. Pritzker gets elected because of all his money.

"What needs to change is the state's got to realize that it is wasting, literally wasting, billions of dollars," Dillard said.

Jones said he's grateful he's no longer in politics.

"I'm glad I'm not down there now, it'll drive you nuts," Jones said.
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