SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – With Illinois’ unpaid bill backlog at a record high of $14.6 billion, state Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, is calling on Gov. Rauner to sign legislation that would reform how state agencies manage their finances and reveal the full extent of the state’s debt obligations.
“The recent bipartisan budget agreement has given Illinois a real opportunity to open the books and inform taxpayers of what we really owe to schools, small businesses, and social service organizations,” Mussman said. “This bill would force the Governor to remove the blindfold from the eyes of taxpayers. During the last two and half years, Illinois’ bill backlog has more than tripled, and this legislation would bring much needed transparency and accountability to state government.”
Mussman co-sponsored House Bill 3649, which requires state agencies to report monthly to the Comptroller the liabilities they are holding, plus an estimate of the amount of late interest penalties that will be paid on those bills. According to the Comptroller’s Office, liabilities are not being reported quickly enough, and as a result, millions of dollars in penalty fees are accruing on the state’s overdue bills. By reforming how state agencies report their liabilities, Mussman’s legislation would ensure that taxpayers do not end up paying more than they already have because of financial mismanagement.
“The Debt Transparency Act would give the Governor’s Office, legislators, the media and most importantly the taxpayers of Illinois a much clearer picture of the state’s finances and the amount owed on the state’s unpaid bills,” said State Comptroller Susana Mendoza. “We hope Governor Rauner follows the advice of his fellow Republicans and Democrats and signs the bill.”
House Bill 3649 passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support at the end of the spring legislative session, and has been sitting on the governor’s desk for 5 weeks awaiting his consideration.