The amount of money Illinois owes to companies and organizations that have provided goods and services for the state is at its lowest level since 2010. But the accomplishment could be short-lived.
At one point, Illinois had a stack of overdue bills totaling about $10 billion. It took so long for the state to pay back its vendors that some were forced to close their doors - they couldn't pay their bills. But that was at the height of the recession, and before Illinois' hike in the state income tax.
The governor's office now says the bill backlog is down below $4 billion dollars. And that it's no longer taking months for vendors to get their money; Gov. Pat Quinn's administration says it's more like the industry standard of 30 days turnaround.
But that income tax increase? It's set to expire in January, halfway through this new fiscal year. Democrats involved with crafting the budget have said they expect that'll bump up the bill backlog again.
Illinois' Comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka, was unavailable for comment. But she recently said Illinois' finances are "still a mess" and that she supports keeping the tax rate higher, and phasing it out over time.