Topinka warns state funds will run dry by summer
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Monday that lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn shouldn't delay in finding money for programs that will clearly run dry of funds by the summer.
Among the programs Topinka warned about were the state's workers' compensation fund and programs that help care for seniors, "where the government should be there because they're our most vulnerable citizens," she said.
Lawmakers often add money to the budget in the middle of the year in order to provide for unforeseen shortfalls. Topinka said they need to do it soon so there's no interruption in services. The state's fiscal year ends June 30.
"By May, everybody's going to be down the hole," she said.
Topinka, a Republican, said $1 billion is needed, and she says it should be held back from state agencies that are faring better than the ones facing shortfalls. She did not name those agencies.
Organizations that are paid by Illinois to provide services for aging, low-income or disabled residents, among others, have already been forced to cope for years with the state being behind on its payments, often by months.
"If they're three or four months behind, they consider themselves on time," said Dianne Yaconetti, president of Libertyville-based Lamb's Farm.
Lawmakers will start their budget-making process in the coming weeks by deciding how much revenue they have available.
The state faces a pile of unpaid bills totaling around $9 billion, and those bills aren't expected to be paid off anytime soon.
Last year more than 40,000 child care providers were notified they wouldn't get state funding for three months because the child care fund had run out of cash. Legislators later moved $73.6 million from other parts of the budget to supplement the fund.
•The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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