SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Recent audits showed that Illinois taxpayers payed more than $1 billion in late fees and interest payments over the last decade.
Illinois’ finances were so bad at one point that the state set up a special program for third party lenders to step in and pay the state’s bills, and collect interest on them. The Auditor General’s report said: For 639 days, taxpayers had no clue who was profiting on this system.
Many of the financial backers, and how much they were making, were unknown until state lawmakers added transparency and reporting requirements into the law. Many were politically connected insiders with deep pockets who fronted more than $8 billion in payments to state vendors, and collected more than $665 million in interest on Illinois’ late bills.
Now that the state is catching up on its bills, most of those companies are no longer making advance payments and collecting profit on Illinois’ debts.
“I don’t even have to worry about having to pay them anymore, because their services are no longer needed… We don’t need them,” said Comptroller Susana Mendoza. “We should hopefully never go back to the days where we have to rely on third party lenders because the State of Illinois is a deadbeat state.”
Some other interesting findings in the audit: Out of that $665 million in late payments, $7.2 million went to the wrong place, and some late fees were 547 days old.