State's vendor debt creeps up to $8.2 billion
Unpaid vendor debt in Illinois spiked to $8,211,831,466.22 the week ending April 6, after recently dipping below $8 billion for the first time in recent memory, according to the state comptroller’s website.
With the state still mired in such heavy debt, Comptroller Susana Mendoza recently told the Dispatch-Argus that transparency is now needed more than ever if the state is ever to have any chance of digging itself out from its arrears.
Mendoza recently introduced the Debt Transparency Act, requiring state agencies to report unpaid balances to the comptroller, including late payment interest, and insisted she was shocked such a requirement wasn’t already on the books.
“I’m still in shock that no controller prior to me looked at this and said, ‘How come I can only see half the bills?’” she told the Dispatch-Argus. “It’s not OK. You have to fix the problem.”
Before this week’s climb, the state’s unpaid debt load had been trending downward ever since Gov. Bruce Rauner announced late last year that he planned to issue $6 billion of general obligation bonds with all the proceeds earmarked for the state’s massive debt load.
More recently, Rauner slammed what he called the state’s habit of "wasteful spending" as part of his campaign platform, leading to a hard-fought Republican primary win over Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).
Over a nearly two year period commencing in 2016, Illinois’ debt load more than tripled to approximately $16 billion as the state was forced to operate with no balanced budget in place.