We think that deserves recognition.
The state has worked hard to get where it is. It sold $6 billion in bonds in 2017 to pay off a big chunk of the backlog. The comptroller’s office says that by paying off bills that had accrued since before 2017, an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion is being saved in lower interest costs through the year 2029. That’s no small amount of money.
We all know that Illinois’ fiscal problems are still significant, and Mendoza pointed that out in her announcement. Just paying the bills in a timely manner is one of the things a reliable government does. But it’s obviously not the only thing it does to prove it’s a good steward of taxpayer money.
Illinois still has a lot of work to do, principally in dealing with its pension problems. The shortfall in the state’s pension systems, long a millstone, exceeds $140 billion, and we haven’t seen a workable plan yet to dig out of the hole. The state also typically spends more than it raises, and lawmakers and the governor haven’t yet finalized a 2022 budget.
Mendoza notes the newly shrunken backlog doesn’t take into account the $3.6 billion the state borrowed from the Federal Reserve, and that it shouldn’t rely on Covid relief funding to put together a budget. She says the state should use the money to pay off its Fed debt first.
We agree. We realize there are a lot of demands for money, but we’d like to see this string of good financial news continue. The governor has proposed a budget with spending restraint, but also a request for new revenue. We’re hoping for a balanced budget without the gimmicks.
Originally Appeared On: https://qctimes.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-smaller-backlog-is-welcome-news/article_8d5813ff-4dae-5b98-8719-bd37eb25284f.html