SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Unpaid bills have become a way of life for the financially troubled state of Illinois.
At any given moment, the state owes billions of dollars for services provided by businesses, charities and local governments. They often have to wait months for payment, which can mean borrowing money or cutting jobs and services.
The backlog of unpaid bills topped $5 billion early last month. Nearly half of that was at least a month overdue.
Leigh Ann Stephens had to write a letter literally begging for payment to a center that helps disabled people live independently. She got some money but still had to cut her own salary and lay people off.
Illinois lawmakers have rejected proposals for borrowing money to pay the overdue bills.
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