SPRINGFIELD – A day after Illinois’ bill backlog reached $16.7 billion, members of the state Senate rejected a system that allows government agencies to conceal unpaid invoices from the comptroller and taxpayers for months on end.
The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to override the governor’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act, a measure that demands better accounting and reporting practices by state agencies so that officials can understand the true extent of the bill backlog at any given time.
“There is no reason that state agencies cannot do a better job of communicating with the comptroller each month about invoices they’ve received that will need to be paid,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and the chief Senate sponsor of the act.
With the Senate’s vote to override, the act takes effect Jan. 1. The House overrode the veto on Oct. 25.
An initiative of Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, the act requires state agencies to report monthly to the comptroller the bills they are holding and estimate the amount of interest that will be paid on those bills.
Until now, agencies have not been required to regularly report their liabilities. The lapse created problems for the comptroller, who is charged with balancing the state’s checkbook and prioritizing payments to vendors.
“The financial pressure on Illinois government has not lifted, as evidenced by the growing bill backlog,” Manar said. “Businesses all over Illinois are patiently waiting to be paid for services and goods they’ve provided. The least we can do is engage in basic, responsible accounting practices and communicate across offices as we try to work through this.”
The legislation is House Bill 3649.