As of early last month, the state owed on 166,000 unpaid bills worth a breathtaking $5 billion, with nearly half of that amount more than a month overdue, according to an Associated Press analysis of state documents. Hundreds of bills date back to 2010 and the actual amount owed is likely higher because some bills are still in the pipeline.
While other states with budget problems have delayed paying their bills, the backlog in Illinois is unmatched, experts say. Year after year, Illinois builds its budget on the assumption that it will pay its bills months late — essentially borrowing money from businesses and nonprofits that have little choice but to suffer the financial hardship.
The unpaid bills range from a few pennies to nearly $25 million. In early September, for example, Illinois owed $55,000 to a small-town farm supply business for gasoline, $1,000 to a charity that provides used clothing to the poor, $810,000 to a child-nutrition program.
Direct to Illinois Outstanding Bills Search
The information in this database is from payments due as of 09/08/2011 compiled by the Illinois Comptroller’s office.