SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The governor has signed a bill that plans to end the unemployment debt in the state.

The state took on a loan to pay for unemployment during the pandemic. Now the state has signed into law a plan to close that debt.

“This bipartisan agreement eliminates the final portion of the $4.5 billion debt forced upon our state during the pandemic,” Governor Pritzker said. “It will save Illinois businesses hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade, and it will save taxpayers $20 million in interest costs that would otherwise have been due next September.”

This is the third payment made this year by the government to eliminate that debt.

“This agreement makes history and makes financial sense,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “It is a collaborative effort by stakeholders and members of both sides of the aisle to save taxpayers’ money while protecting the rights of workers.

The bill was also agreed upon by both labor representatives and business groups.

“More Illinoisans are finding quality employment opportunities, but it’s still vital that we work together to ensure that if workers fall on tough times there’s a strong safety net for them,” Pat Devaney, Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer, said. “We have a historic opportunity to protect the benefits of workers while also repaying a debt and continuing to keep Illinois on the right financial path.”

“Through careful and deliberate negotiations via the tried and true ‘agreed bill’ process, we have chartered a path forward that will resolve this debt, save businesses more than $900 million in taxes they would otherwise have paid, and secure benefits for laid-off workers,” Rob Karr, President and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said.