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Illinois’ tax-increase-with-no-reforms would “save the state,” some supporters told us.

Others claimed the new tax increases would cap growth of the unpaid bill balance: “We’ve been saying for 2 months that the higher income tax receipts would not start getting to our office until September,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza spokesman Abdon Pallasch said. “The new budget should stop [the backlog] growing. The part of the budget aimed at getting it down was the bond authority which the governor just said he would take advantage of.”

It has done neither.

It hit a record $16.3 billion today, according to the Comptroller’s office. That’s up a full billion since the start of September when the new tax revenue was supposed to cap it.

Actually, the bill backlog by itself doesn’t mean terribly much; it’s not a proxy for how well we are doing. It’s just one account among many the state has. It’s the consolidation of all of them that really matters, and that picture is much, much worse. See our earlier article on that linked here.

Plus, as as recently reported, we don’t know what the backlog really is because many bills haven’t been reported in yet.

The bill backlog will decrease as the new bond proceeds of $6 billion are applied against it. Just don’t believe silly statements like “The digging out of debt in Illinois begins,” which is the headline on a “Statehouse Insider” article yesterday. The bond issue just swaps one form of debt for another, plus interest and fees, of course.

Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.

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“Digging out of debt”, when your budgeting standard is next-year cash accounting, simply means pushing the debt into the future. If they push it into the future with a loan, the debt is “gone”. That’s the standard. Accounting doesn’t tell you what’s right or wrong, just what the standard is. I have no clue what would change the accounting standard for government budgeting.