The delays became a regular part of the state’s budget management, forcing businesses and charity groups to borrow money, cut jobs and services and take on personal debt.
The unanticipated $1.2 billion increase in tax revenue, dubbed the “April surprise” in Springfield, came from taxpayers selling assets at the end of 2012 before new tax laws took effect. The remainder of the backlog decrease was due to fluctuations throughout the year as some bills are paid and others accumulate, said Brad Hahn, Topinka’s spokesman.
The comptroller’s office addresses the unpaid bills in the order in which they were received. It has the ability, however, to expedite payments to certain agencies under a hardship appeals process.
After the “April surprise,” Topinka’s office prioritized payments to non-profits, particularly agencies that serve the elderly or the disabled. It also prioritized agencies that receive Medicaid dollars, in order to take advantage of federal matching funds.
But according to Judith Gethner, executive director of the Illinois Partners for Human Services, an umbrella organization for service providers around the state, some agencies haven’t seen a check yet. For some, outstanding payments from the state still go back as far as a year.
Schwick said Lutheran Social Services got about $4 million from the state last month, but it is still owed $8 million. The agency funds everything from foster care to head start programs to drug treatment and elder care.
The lack of state payments has forced the agency to turn away people seeking treatment for drug abuse. It’s also led to layoffs, delayed building repairs, and ended matches to employees’ 401(k) contributions.
“Tens of thousands of dollars come at a time,” Schwick said. “But it’s never anything close to getting the state current with us.”<< previous 1 2 3 next >>