CHRONICLE: Correctional center faces electric shutoff due to Rauner’s unpaid bills

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The Centralia Correctional Center received an electric service disconnect notice if the state does not pay their utility bill from the Clinton County Electric Cooperative. The bill is just one of the record $16 billion in unpaid bills, according to the State Comptroller’s office announced.

In 2015, when Governor Rauner first took office, the state’s unpaid bill backlog was about $6 billion. Politicians of both parties for years had borrowed and spent money the state was not bringing in.

However, no Illinois governor will have done more damage to this bill backlog than Governor Rauner, who has tripled the debt held by the state. During the more than two-year impasse, Rauner pushed the state to the brink, holding the budget hostage in order to pass non-budgetary reforms.

In July, lawmakers passed a state budget without the involvement of the Governor. The bipartisan coalition ultimately decided the Governor’s agenda – which would have pushed the state into a third consecutive year without a budget – would do irreparable damage to the state’s finances and institutions.

While the budget became law, state of Illinois still owes more than 60 entities at least $10 million each, a review by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce found. Thirteen are owed $100 million or more.

The interest payments on the debt is also becoming an increasing burden. The Comptroller’s office predicted that number to grow by $700 million in interest in this budget year – more than twice the state’s previous record.

For months, Rauner resisted calls by the state’s elected officials to begin paying down the state’s massive debt, a move which was authorized in the July bipartisan budget passed against Rauner’s wishes. Under great pressure, he finally announced he would finally begin this process.

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