Illinois past-due fees since 2015 top $1B

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ The Latest on late-payment interest owed on billions of dollars in Illinois debt (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

The Illinois state comptroller reports that the amount of late charges the state has incurred on billions of dollars in debt outstrips the amount accrued in the previous two decades.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza said in a report obtained by The Associated Press Monday that Illinois has run up late-pay fees of $1.14 billion since mid-2015. That’s $100 million more than in the previous 18 years combined.

Illinois must pay 12 percent annual interest on bills not paid within 90 days. The backlog ballooned to $16 billion last summer after a two-year budget stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly.

Democrat Mendoza will release the report Tuesday. It’s the first full accounting of debt and interest charges since she was successful in getting a law requiring state agencies to report their accrued bills monthly.

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2:30 p.m.

During the Illinois budget crisis, private companies borrowed billions of dollars to pay government vendors on time with the promise that state repayment would come with late fees.

Now the participants in the Illinois vendor-assistance program say they’re not getting hundreds of millions of dollars in late-payment interest they’re owed.

The financiers told legislators Monday that lending banks might discontinue participation.

A $6.5 billion bond issue last fall helped state Comptroller Susana Mendoza pay down what was $16 billion in past-due bills.

Bt Gregory Gac of Illinois Financing Partners says it is still owed $115 million. Brian Hynes says his firm, Vendor Assistance Program, is owed $250 million.

Mendoza spokeswoman Jamey Dunn says Mendoza is still in bill-payment “triage” and is prioritizing schools and the “state’s most vulnerable.”