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updated: 10/16/2011 12:16 PM

Deadbeat state: Illinois owes billions in unpaid bills

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  • Abha Pandya, the CEO of the Asian Human Services Center in Chicago -- one of numerous Illinois nonprofits, charities and community groups -- is awaiting payment from the state for human services they provide. The Chicago-based organization is owed $609,000 in bills, some of them stretching back to November. Groups like Pandya's are forced to borrow, rely on lines of credit or make reductions to get by. "We are basically bankrolling the state. It's a ridiculous situation," she said.

      Abha Pandya, the CEO of the Asian Human Services Center in Chicago -- one of numerous Illinois nonprofits, charities and community groups -- is awaiting payment from the state for human services they provide. The Chicago-based organization is owed $609,000 in bills, some of them stretching back to November. Groups like Pandya's are forced to borrow, rely on lines of credit or make reductions to get by. "We are basically bankrolling the state. It's a ridiculous situation," she said.
    Associated Press

  • ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY OCT. 16, 2011 -- FILE - In this June 1, 2011 file photo, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters while in his office at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. With the state billions of dollars behind in paying its debt, collecting on unpaid bills can be a torturous, confusing process, and the rules for who gets paid and how quickly are not always followed. Gov. Pat Quinnís budget office encourages people to go to a website and fill out the form if they want to claim a financial hardship, but businesses can also call or write directly. Budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft said Quinn doesn't believe that someone should get paid more quickly if a politician is intervening.

      ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY OCT. 16, 2011 -- FILE - In this June 1, 2011 file photo, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters while in his office at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill. With the state billions of dollars behind in paying its debt, collecting on unpaid bills can be a torturous, confusing process, and the rules for who gets paid and how quickly are not always followed. Gov. Pat Quinnís budget office encourages people to go to a website and fill out the form if they want to claim a financial hardship, but businesses can also call or write directly. Budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft said Quinn doesn't believe that someone should get paid more quickly if a politician is intervening.

  • ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY OCT. 16, 2011 -- FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2011 file photo, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka participates in a rally during Republican Day at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. With the state billions of dollars behind in paying its debt, collecting on unpaid bills can be a torturous, confusing process, and the rules for who gets paid and how quickly are not always followed. Even state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, whose office is in charge of paying the bills, acknowledges the system isn't fair.

      ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY OCT. 16, 2011 -- FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2011 file photo, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka participates in a rally during Republican Day at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. With the state billions of dollars behind in paying its debt, collecting on unpaid bills can be a torturous, confusing process, and the rules for who gets paid and how quickly are not always followed. Even state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, whose office is in charge of paying the bills, acknowledges the system isn't fair.

  • ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY OCT. 16, 2011 - Suzanne Young, president of Rockford Map Publishers, is seen Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, in Belvidere, Ill. "We've become accustomed to it. Being angry is not going to change it," said Young, who has had a hard time getting the state to pay her business, Rockford Map Publishers.

      ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY OCT. 16, 2011 - Suzanne Young, president of Rockford Map Publishers, is seen Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, in Belvidere, Ill. "We've become accustomed to it. Being angry is not going to change it," said Young, who has had a hard time getting the state to pay her business, Rockford Map Publishers.

  • Leigh Ann Stephens, executive director of DuPage Center for Independent Living, is seen in her office in Glen Ellyn. Stephens wrote a letter in August "asking, pleading" for $50,000 the state owed to the DuPage Center for Independent Living. It was the third time in two years that she had sent a hardship letter warning the center, which helps people with disabilities live outside of costly nursing homes, would close if it wasn't paid.

      Leigh Ann Stephens, executive director of DuPage Center for Independent Living, is seen in her office in Glen Ellyn. Stephens wrote a letter in August "asking, pleading" for $50,000 the state owed to the DuPage Center for Independent Living. It was the third time in two years that she had sent a hardship letter warning the center, which helps people with disabilities live outside of costly nursing homes, would close if it wasn't paid.
    Associated Press

  • Overdue in Illinois

    Graphic: Overdue in Illinois

 
By Christopher Wills
Associated Press

Drowning in deficits, illinois has turned to a deliberate policy of not paying billions of dollars in bills for months at a time, creating a cycle of hardship and sacrifice for residents and businesses helping the state carry out some of the most important government tasks. once intended as a stopgap, the months-long delay in paying bills has now become a regular part of the state's budget management.

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