Budget – Unpaid Bills
· Backlog of unpaid bill hits $8.6 billion. The unpaid-bill count, tracked on a day-to-day basis by the office of Comptroller Leslie Munger, hit more than $8.6 billion this week. The red-ink number is closely watched by holders of Illinois debt paper and by international credit rating agencies and firms that rank worldwide debtors by chances of insolvency. For example Moody’s, the world’s largest credit-rating firm, currently ranks Illinois general obligation debt backed by general funds at Baa2, two ranks above “junk bond” level. Moody’s adds that they have a “negative outlook” on Illinois’ current Baa2 rating. Analysts at Moody’s report that Illinois’ “structural budget gap” currently equals at least 15% of Illinois general fund and pension expenditures.
The backlog, counted as of Thursday, September 22, represents more than $8.6 billion in bills payable from Illinois general funds. These bills have either been presented to the Illinois Comptroller for payment, or are known to be waiting in the coffers of various State agencies for presentation and payment. Many of these bills are request for reimbursement to providers of supplies and services to the State and its clients, particularly medical and nursing care provided to Medicaid patients.
The unpaid-bill ledger count reported weekly by Munger’s office is likely to continue to fluctuate in future weeks. However, the overall red-ink trend is expected to continue to go upward, based on tax payments to the State continuing to fall short of monies obligated by continuing appropriations, court orders, and consent decrees. Illinois’ unpaid-bill debt is only a small fraction of the total debts owed by the Illinois public sector. One estimate indicates that the State of Illinois alone has compiled obligations, including future pension obligations, of more than $45,500 per taxpayer.