Unpaid state bills piling up again

The State Journal-Register –

Illinois entered the new state fiscal year after a nearly $2.3 billion boost in tax revenue for the fiscal year just ended.

But separate forecasts — one from a state economic forecasting commission and the other from the comptroller’s office  — warn the trend won’t continue. In fact, general fund revenue in fiscal 2014 begun July 1 is expected to drop $816 million from the $36 billion collected in fiscal 2013.

The state comptroller’s office also reported Monday the backlog of state bills is rising again after a short break.

An end-of-year analysis by the state Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability did have good news. Rising corporate, personal and sales tax revenues in the just-completed fiscal year suggests continued growth in Illinois’ economy.

“There’s not a whole lot of good news, but there’s not a whole lot of terrible news,” commission revenue manager Jim Muschinske said Monday. “We’re just kind of bumping along.”

The commission provides economic and revenue forecasts to the Illinois General Assembly.

Muschinske said corporate and individual tax revenues were rising even before an April windfall of $1.3 billion. The April increase was attributed to high-income earners selling assets ahead of a change in federal tax law.

“There were some decent numbers even prior to what happened in April,” said Muschinske. “The downside is rolling forward into the new fiscal year, we anticipate some pretty mundane numbers.”

He said much faster job growth is needed to improve the long-term revenue outlook.

State unemployment of 9.2 percent in June was 2 points higher than June 2012, even though 45,800 more people were at work last month, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

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