A huge backlog of unpaid bills continues to plague Illinois state government.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka reported Monday that her office ended March with more than $5.5 billion in bills the state couldn't afford to pay. State agencies had their own stacks of bills, so Topinka believes the total backlog was more than $9 billion.
She says Illinois is basically treading water financially. The state is taking in more money from a recent income tax increase, but that is offset by less federal aid and increased pension costs.
Illinois lawmakers say a cigarette tax increase is on the table as a bipartisan committee strains to find $2.7 billion in cuts to the Illinois Medicaid program.
Two Republicans and two Democrats are charged with finding a deal. But they're confronting fundamental differences, including disagreement on the cigarette tax.
Democratic Sen. Heather Steans says Gov. Pat Quinn's administration floated a proposal that included $1.3 billion in cuts to Medicaid program spending, a $1 per pack increase in the cigarette tax and rate cuts to health care providers.
March’s average temperature in St. Louis this year is almost 15 degrees above normal. If the forecast holds true tomorrow, St. Louis’s unusually high temperatures will make this the warmest March on record.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Britt says the average temperature this month will be almost 61 degrees.
“The previous record of 1910 was only about 57.5 so that’s a considerable breaking of the record,” he said.
Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky was used in this story.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will endorse legislation in his State of the State address next week that would raise Illinois' high school dropout age to 18, according to a statement from the Democrat's office.
The proposal would answer a call from fellow Democrat Barack Obama, who in his State of the Union address on Tuesday urged states to keep students in high school long enough for them to get their diploma.