Comptroller: Illinois financial crisis could get worse

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Leslie Munger says Illinois is on pace to spend $2.5 billion more than it takes in during the next six months. (WLS)

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says Illinois is on pace to spend $2.5 billion more than it takes in during the next six months. However, the stopgap budget does allow her to finally cut checks to those who rely on state money to stay afloat.

A six month stopgap budget means social service agencies and non-profits that rely on state money, and haven't been paid since the budget crisis began, will finally get paid and Munger promises it will be soon.

"I'm pulling up the people that have been waiting for a year to the front of the line to help get them caught up, because they have had zero in a year, and then we will continue to work down the line," she said.

"Down the line" means human services, payroll and Medicaid, which is required by a court order. In addition, Munger says payment priorities will be given to companies that do business with the state such as state prison vendors and utilities, and the banks.

"I will always prioritize our debt service payments to make sure we never default on Illinois bonds," she said.

With so many payments slated for the front of the line, Munger's critics are worried social service agencies may once again fall to the back

"We're concerned that when the money does get paid out, who is going to be at the front of the line, as opposed to who will be at the back," James Muhummad, SEIU Healthcare, said. "And we have seen too much evidence that the people who really matter to the state, the consumers, the schools, our children, are always put at the back of the line."

The labor union, SEIU, is asking for more transparency in the process of prioritizing payments. Munger says she plans to place elected officials in the back of the line, including herself.

Munger says the state is about two months behind in paying its elected officials. While a temporary budget is a good step forward, Munger says the state is still broke. Without a balanced budget, she predicts the unpaid bill backlog to exceed $10 billion by the end of the year, resulting in six month payment delays.
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