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SPRINGFIELD —  Illinois today is looking at $4.5 billion in unpaid bills. But state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is warning that figure could almost double by July.

SPRINGFIELD —  Illinois today is looking at $4.5 billion in unpaid bills. But state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is warning that figure could almost double by July.

Topinka is issuing a report that says Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills is likely to grow in the coming months, to a possible $8 billion.

“We’ve had to pay back pension costs that we did not last year, and that takes up some slack,” she said.

“We’ve had to pay back a Medicaid match that we missed … we’ve got employee health insurance that has to be paid.  We’ve got lapse-period spending which will come in after the normal payment cycle. … It all adds up.”

Topinka said she’s required to pay the state’s bills, keep the lights on in state government and pay state workers first. That means that people who have done business with the state will have to wait a bit before getting paid.

Ken Duchnowski now waits about 60 days for payments to his Alton pharmacy. He said he can wait a few more days, but he said he doesn’t want the state to go back to the “bad old days.”

“We’re owed about $200,000 and wait two months now,” he said. “But we were waiting 115 days, and we were owed closer to $450,000 not too long ago.”

Duchnowski said he tries to keep the situation in perspective, but is a bit frustrated that the state is once again looking at delaying payments.

“I thought this is why (Gov. Pat Quinn) passed a tax increase,” Duchnowski said.

In January, Illinois lawmakers passed and Quinn signed into law a 67 percent personal income tax increase and a 45.9 percent corporate income tax increase.

Topinka said revenue from the tax hike is being eaten up by Medicaid and pension costs.  But she said she doesn’t think borrowing to pay the past-due bills is a good idea, adding that lawmakers have to stop spending so the state can pay what it owes.

House lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week after a spring break to begin crafting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year set to begin July 1. Senate lawmakers are scheduled to return next week to a full slate of budget hearings.

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