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State

Quinn budget chief touts good news on unpaid bills

CHICAGO (AP) — Days ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn's State of the State address, his budget director has sent lawmakers a letter detailing "encouraging" developments on Illinois' billions in unpaid bills.

The Sunday letter says the backlog will be $5.6 billion by fiscal year's end, down from roughly $10 billion. Budget chief Jerry Stermer says if progress continues Illinois will be in line with "private-sector benchmarks."

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

Republicans say the backlog is still too high and the 2011 income tax increase was pitched to fix it.

The increase expires next year. Quinn has been noncommittal on if he'll push for an extension.

A budget spokesman says there isn't a connection between the letter and Quinn's Wednesday speech. He says Quinn will later outline budget issues.

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