CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn this week announced the amount of Illinois’ unpaid bills has decreased in the past few years. Meanwhile, State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R–Rockford, says without including the state’s pension liabilities, the numbers are misleading.
Boasting a nearly $6 billion reduction in bill backlog, the governor lauded “tough decisions” for enabling cuts of more than $5.7 billion in spending since 2010.
“Making the tough decisions has moved Illinois forward,” Quinn said in a statement. “Today Illinois is in a stronger financial position than we were five years ago and we have more work to do to continue moving our finances in the right direction.”
The governor’s office says the current unpaid debt is “now closer to the typical private industry 30-day billing standard — about $2.2 billion in Illinois’ case — and is a direct result of the governor’s willingness to make the tough decisions including overhauling the Medicaid program, reforming worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance systems and implementing major efficiencies such as closing and consolidating more than 50 state facilities.”
Quinn is referencing his 2011 workers’ compensation reforms that reduced the average rate of premium pay for employers, mostly by setting new standards for determining a worker’s disability and placing safeguards aimed at preventing abuses — a move that, according to Quinn’s office, saved the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system $315 million in 2012.
The governor also references the 2012 Medicaid reforms that removed from the book more than 60,000 enrollees who weren’t qualified to receive Medicaid benefits.
Some Republicans aren’t buying the legitimacy of nearly $7 billion in bill reduction since 2010, however, and say the party in power is just kicking the state’s can of fiscal obligations down the road.
Sosnowski said the figures released by the governor’s office omit pension liabilities, therefore don’t accurately reflect the real amount owed. He also said there’s a reason the businesses climate and employment situation are suffering and it’s due to the governor’s policies.
“This governor refuses to address the issues that are killing job growth, like workers comp(ensation) or our tax and spend policies,” the representative said. “As long as we continue to be a high-tax, heavy-regulation state with unfriendly business practices, we’ll continue to lose people and jobs to other states. No amount of budget tinkering can change that.”
Brady Cremeens is a reporter for the Illinois News Network.