CHRONICLE: Late bill payments under Rauner more than previous 18 years

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A new report shows that since Governor Bruce Rauner’s election, Illinois has paid more in late-payment fees than in the previous 18 years combined. The $16 billion in overdue bills Rauner racked up during the state’s budget impasse cost late payments totaling $1.14 billion.

In the 18 years between 1998 and 2015, the total interest paid on late bills was $100 million less than that. The staggering amount is much higher than the state’s comptroller had previously estimated, bringing into focus the true, devastating toll of Rauner’s impasse.

During the 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 further irreparable damage to the state’s finances and institutions.

According to a report by the AP, some major creditors have reported waiting more than a year to be paid the interest that is due. The state’s creditors include the state’s public universities, more than 150 local school districts and community colleges, health insurers, and The Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace.

Bills unpaid after 90 days is subject to 12 percent annual interest. The comptroller was prohibited from paying many bills during Rauner’s impasse, and is now digging out, prioritizing repayments to schools, healthcare, and programs supporting the state’s most vulnerable.

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