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Interest on Illinois' unpaid bills reached $318M

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2014 1:51 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Interest payments on Illinois' late bills cost the state $318 million last year — enough to cover the annual budget of the Illinois State Police, according to a published report.

The state auditor's overview of Illinois' finances shows interest payments from fiscal year 2013 were more than double what was paid in the previous year when the figure was $136 million, according to a report by the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers.

The state's interest on unpaid bills was $91 million in 2011, $97 million in 2010 and $36.9 million in 2009.

Brad Hahn, a spokesman for Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, said this year's interest payments should be much lower because the state has been "aggressive" about working to reduce the backlog of unpaid bills.

"Because much of the backlog has been paid down, we should not see the kind of interest payments in 2014," Hahn said.

The state's overall backlog of unpaid bills is expected to fall to $5.6 billion by June 30, which is the end of the current fiscal year. That's down from a high of $9.9 billion in 2010.

The state's 2013 deficit was nearly $45 million, a shortfall that grew by less than 1 percent from the previous year.

The general spending account deficit, which is used to pay bills that are owed to vendors, fell 19 percent to $7.3 billion.

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