As Illinois Deadbeat Status Persists, Topinka Says “No” to Senator Sullivan Plan to Pay State Bills

(Springfield, IL) — For the upcoming year, Illinois lawmakers are weighing whether to pay bills with borrowed money or not pay businesses and local government money the state owes them.

Democrats are pushing the plan to borrow $6.2 billion in order to pay some of Illinois’ $8.2 billion in past-due bills.

Republicans say lawmakers have to stop borrowing and start cutting spending if Illinois is ever going to pay its bills and live within its means.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who actually writes the checks for the state’s bills, said spending money now is not the solution.

“The basic restructuring has not been done; the cuts have not been made. The budget has not been brought back in line, which has to be basically flat,” said Topinka.

Topinka said Illinois is still spending more than it is taking in. She did not offer an amount to be cut from the budget, but she did say the $7 billion in revenue from the largest income tax increase in the state’s history, has been committed.

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Rutherford Says “No” to Paying Delinquent Illinois Bills with New Bond Borrowing

(Springfield, IL) — Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford on Monday said he cannot support adding to Illinois burgeoning debt.

The first-term Republican treasurer released his own report that states Illinois total debt would cost every household in the state $42,000. Rutherford arrived at the number by adding Illinois’ $140 billion in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities, the state’s $45 billion bond debt, and the nearly $8 billion in unpaid bills.

Rutherford said lawmakers must cut spending and live within their means in order for Illinois to pay off the debt.

“You can’t borrow anymore money,” said Rutherford. “And if I need to send letters to the rating companies to tell them the treasurer of Illinois is opposed to any more borrowing, I’ll go ahead and do that.”

Rutherford said alerting national rating agencies and bond houses could make it more expensive for Illinois to borrow. He said hopes that step would give lawmakers pause before asking for a billion dollars.

And while the state’s treasurer can only stop short-term borrowing, lawmakers are maneuvering to pass a measure through the General Assembly that would bypass any authority Rutherford has.

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