News - Bill's Blog

It looks like the State of Illinois is paying down its bill backlog!

June 12, 2020

In the last couple of days, I’ve been looking at the bill backlog webpage at the website for the Illinois State Comptroller. It seemed like the backlog amount had gone down from what I remembered. Using the Wayback Machine, we got that webpage for eight days in the last month and a half. Here’s the total general funds bill backlog reported for each of those days:

 

May 1

$ 6.8 billion

May 11

$ 6.8 billion

May 12

$ 6.6 billion

May 13

$ 6.5 billion

June 3

$ 6.9 billion

June 5

$ 6.9 billion

June 8

$ 5.7 billion

June 12

$ 4.8 billion

 

The June 5 backlog number was reported as of 8 a.m. CT. Something big happened later that day. Illinois secured a $1.2 billion loan directly from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

That loan has been asserted to be authorized under the emergency lending provisions of the Federal Reserve Act, titled “Discounts to individuals, partnerships and corporations.” In turn, Federal Reserve Banks’ lending is also governed by Regulation A of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. 

Among other questions, emergency loans are not supposed to be extended to insolvent borrowers, with language including that the borrower “has not failed to generally pay its undisputed debts as they become due during the 90 days preceding the date of borrowing under the program or facility.” 

And a statement still on the Comptroller’s website today, dated April 3 (less than 90 days before June 5) included: 

“The Illinois Office of Comptroller has received multiple inquiries as to the timing and volume of payments being released, given the circumstances related to the worldwide COVID-19 Coronavirus health emergency. Due to the severity of this impact, and the significant additional challenges it poses to the state’s finances, further payment delays are to be expected in the coming weeks and months.”

It's not like that bill backlog just flowered right after the pandemic arrived, however. It's been a longstanding problem. Back on December 30, 2019, it stood at $6.6 billion.

It seems ironic that Illinois appears to be paying down its bill backlog directly or indirectly with proceeds from a loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, under these circumstances.

 
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