Thursday, March 04, 2010

Senate moves borrowing plan

By Jamey Dunn

The Illinois Senate sent a plan to Gov. Pat Quinn today that would allow the state to borrow to pay down some of the bills it owes medical providers.

The measure would allow the state to borrow $250 million to pay vendors and capture federal matching Medicaid dollars, which Quinn claims will total $600 million. The borrowed money will have to be paid back in a year.

Chicago Democrat Sen. Donne Trotter, the sponsor of the bill, said because the state is late making its payments, businesses are in danger of going bankrupt.

“We have a responsibility to pay our debts,” Trotter said.

Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, said that the state has no plan for paying back the money next fiscal year. He asked that the vote be delayed until after the governor gives his budget address next week.

“This is how we got here. This fundamental lack of understanding of the fact that you can’t promise more than you produce,” Murphy said. While the bill did not have Republican support in the Senate, it did in the House including a “yes” vote from House Minority Leader Rep. Tom Cross.

Trotter said the issue “is something that’s been festering since January.” He added that had it been handled sooner, it would not be to the point of an emergency now.

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