WE ARE ILLINOIS
Illinois' fiscal doomsday drawing ever closer
GateHouse News Service Editorial
One especially telling aspect of Illinois’ financial mess is the fact that, no matter how much doom you see in it, no one will call you Chicken Little.
The latest case in point comes courtesy of the Civic Federation, a nonpartisan, Chicago-based budget watchdog group that for years has warned that the state’s fiscal sky is falling — or is in grave danger of doing so — under the weight of ever-growing public pension and healthcare demands. (The Civic Federation should not be confused with the Civic Committee, an arm of the Commercial Club of Chicago that has actively pushed for pension reform.)
In the report it issued this week, though, the Civic Federation sounds a credible alarm the likes of which we have not heard before.
Citing data from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, the group forecasts that within five years, rising Medicaid costs will lead to $21 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills for the state. The Medicaid bills will be the biggest chunk of what the Civic Federation projects will be, without immediate and significant action, a total backlog of $34.8 billion in unpaid bills by the end of fiscal 2017. To put it in perspective, the budget for fiscal 2012 projects the state will take in $33.9 billion in general funds, from which day-to-day government operations are funded. In five years, our unpaid bills will dwarf that by $900 million, according to the Civic Federation.
We were still coming to grips with Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s quarterly report, which was issued a few weeks back and estimates the state now is $8.5 billion in arrears on its bills (including bills owed but not yet submitted to the comptroller for payment).
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Civic Federation Report
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