Comptroller warns of stateâ€™s growing expenses
Springfield, IL â€“ Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka released the following statement in response to General Assembly discussion of a tax package aimed at assisting employers and residents in need:
â€œAs members of the General Assembly consider moving forward with a proposed tax package for employers and low-income residents, I encourage them to add an item to the discussion: revenue. At minimum, any tax package being considered would total $250 million annually, and thatâ€™s on top of already-growing state liabilities. Those escalating costs cannot just be ignored.
â€œToday our state has unpaid bills totaling more than $8 billion in my office and at the state agencies, dating back to July 8 here and even earlier in the case of some healthcare bills. Businesses, schools, hospitals, social service and not-for-profit agencies are waiting months at a time for payments they are owed. Already underfunded, Medicaid costs are expected to rise another $800 million next fiscal year, and our pension payment in 2013 will be $950 million more than the current yearâ€™s total. Clearly, this is not the time for increased spending.
â€œIf lawmakers determine that a new tax package is necessary, they must also identify a way to address these growing costs. To that end, I have consistently supported gambling legislation that allows for a casino in Chicago because it will bring-in much-needed revenue without raising fees or taxes. I still believe that is the best option. If the General Assembly and Governor disagree but want to proceed with new spending, then they must identify another way to pay it.
â€œOne thing is clear: the â€˜spend now, pay laterâ€™ culture of state government must change â€“ and the time is now.â€