Topinka: State ends fiscal year $6.1 billion in red

Online Staff Report

CHICAGO — Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka (R) announced July 1 that the State of Illinois ended Fiscal Year 2013 with $6.1 billion in unaddressed financial obligations, and warned that the deficit will grow by more than $1 billion in the coming weeks.

The state’s chief fiscal officer noted that Illinois collected $1.3 billion more in tax revenue than expected this spring, allowing it to end the fiscal year $6.1 billion in the red, compared to $7.5 billion down at the end of last year. But she warned the one-time revenue spike does not impact the state’s fiscal challenges in the long-term.

In fact, Topinka predicted the state’s bill backlog will grow to approximately $7.5 billion by August, and swell further in subsequent months.

Make no mistake, the ‘April surprise’ is history,” said Topinka, referring to unexpected tax revenue collected by the state. “That windfall allowed us to aggressively pay down bills and provide some relief to vendors, but it did nothing to address the state’s systemic budget problems.”

Specifically, Topinka said the Comptroller’s Office ended the fiscal year with 73,184 unpaid bills totaling $3.3 billion and dating back to June 3. When estimates of bills still at state agencies are included, the state’s total backlog reaches $6.1 billion.

But Topinka added that the backlog can be expected to grow in the coming months. Based on historical trends, the comptroller estimated the state will have around $7.5 billion in unpaid bills in August, $8.1 billion in September, $8.7 billion in October — and near $9 billion in November and December. She stressed that those totals may change depending on when bills are submitted to the state.

Regardless of the specific totals, the trend is clear, Topinka said.

Despite years of hand-wringing about state finances, nothing has changed,” she said. “We continue to force businesses, hospitals, schools and service agencies to wait months on end for promised payment from the state. It is unconscionable and further highlights the importance of keeping spending flat and restoring our fiscal integrity.”

Posted July 1, 2013

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