SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Comptroller Susana Mendoza (D-Illinois) testified before the House Revenue Committee on Thursday and endorsed a plan for Illinois to make automatic payments into the ‘Rainy Day Fund.’
On Capitol Connection, the state’s top fiscal officer said any month where Illinois has less than $3 billion in outstanding bills, the state should sock away roughly one percent of tax revenues, or approximately $17 million per month, to save up in case of emergencies.
“Just like people do at home, they receive their money, they don’t spend it all, they save some, they pay their bills, right? Which is what we should do first and foremost,” Mendoza said. “And then, extra revenues that you have leftover, you should set aside some into your own emergency rainy day fund. So the state should be no different. And I don’t want this to be a practice that we do once in a blue moon. It’s something we should get in the habit of doing: saving for a rainy day, every single year.”
Illinois’ rainy day fund was depleted down to just $60,000 during the budget impasse, she said. When state finances were starting to spiral downward during the Blagojevich and Quinn administrations, lawmakers moved to push back the deadline for late payment interest penalties from 30 to 60 and ultimately 90 days. Now that the state’s finances are improving, Mendoza said she would not support a plan to reinstate a stricter deadline.
“I don’t need a lot to tell me that I should be doing the right thing, which is pay the bills on time,” Mendoza said. “As a matter of fact, the private sector doesn’t even have a 30-day payment cycle. They’re usually a net 45 to 60 days. We are really exceeding I think anyone’s expectations at this point.”
Shannon Teresi, a Republican running for Comptroller, attacked Mendoza on Twitter, accusing her of “using her position to hide our state’s financial trouble,” and “digging us further into debt.”
“I’ve been the most transparent comptroller in the history of the state,” Mendoza responded.
“The facts speak for themselves,” she said. “I had a 210-day delay when I took over this office in paying vendors. Today, my oldest bill is 17 days old. I brought the bill backlog down from almost 17 billion, $16.7 billion, to today about 4 billion. And we’re paying our bills faster than we have in over 20 years — without using federal stimulus funds, which is an important point to make. And by the way, in the middle of a global pandemic. So, Oh, and I forgot something: two credit upgrades in the middle of a pandemic. So, I think that the rating agencies would disagree with my opponent. And proof is in the pudding. We’re in a much better fiscal situation today than we were when I took over.”