Debt Transparency Act becomes law - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Debt Transparency Act becomes law

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CARBONDALE -- State agencies must now report unpaid bills to the comptroller's office once a month. Before Wednesday's vote, those agencies only had to report once a year. The comptroller says that kept her from properly managing the state's finances.

Even though Illinois has a budget, our budget issues aren't over. That's why lawmakers voted to require monthly records of the states unpaid bills, that way the comptroller can prioritize the order in which she pays them back. 

James Rossiter of Carbondale says if it weren't for the budget fiasco he would have never known the state didn't already keeping better track of its finances. 
"Right now, nothing surprises me in the political arena," said Rossiter. 

Currently, Illinois has more than 16 billion dollars in unpaid bills. Political expert, Jak Tichenor, says when those bills go unpaid, taxpayers pay more in interest. 

"We are actually paying over 900 million dollars in interest and fees on those things. Well, that's a lot of money that could be spent on other things in the state of Illinois," said Tichenor. 

Tichenor says in order to get those interest payments down, the comptroller needed to have a better idea of which bills to pay off first. Something the Debt Transparency Act can shed some light on. 

"If you've got an idea of where your problems are, you can move money around and try to take care of those first so that you're not racking up a larger bill for taxpayers," said Tichenor. 

The governor tried to veto the measure because he said it would be expensive to hire staff to handle the records coming in each month. However, lawmakers and Rossiter believe that's a better alternative than paying hundreds of millions in interest and penalties. 

"If people need to be hired, than they need to be hired," said Rossiter.  
Governor Rauner said he vetoed the measure, because he believed the comptrollers office also attempted to micromanage executive departments. 

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