State’s Financial Crisis Cost Taxpayers An Extra Billion, Mendoza Says

Bernie Tafoya
April 25, 2018 - 1:24 pm

Susana Mendoza/Facebook

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The state of Illinois' finances has marked a dubious distinction.   

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said that, since July 2015, the state has paid $1.14 billion in late fees on its debt, which amounts to $100 million more than the state paid for the previous 17 years combined.

"As bad as it was under Governor Quinn, all four prior governors together still account for less, less than the late interest penalty payments that Governor Rauner has racked up under his watch in just two and a half years," Mendoza said.

Lawrence Msall of the Civic Federation of Chicago calls the numbers, "a sad reflection on the financial recklessness that the state of Illinois has been involved in for the past couple of years."

Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association said it's "absolutely inexcusable."

Msall said that, "to spend a billion dollars in late penalties and interests means that that’s a billion dollars that’s not available for schools, for public safety, for all the other priorities for the state of Illinois."

He said everyone in Illinois is going to wind up paying more and getting less in government services as a result.

"It’s making the hole deeper. It’s basically the state not addressing the core problem which is the state spending more money than it takes in," he said.

Shaw adds that, "It’s a shame on everyone in Springfield who let that happen. And, we the taxpayers lost a billion dollars unnecessarily that still could have been in our pockets as tax reductions or in the form of better services."

Meanwhile, Comptroller Mendoza said the backlog of bills owed by the state is currently $8.2 billion. She said she hopes the legislature and the Governor can get together on a new budget over the coming weeks so that she can continue paying down that backlog.