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Illinois Pays Some Vendors, Leaving Others Frustrated

Sarah Mueller WUIS

Illinois is banking more than $600 million in debt through a little known program that helps state vendors get paid faster. Most of that is health insurance costs, but some is for information technology upgrades. But, while some businesses are benefiting from this program, others are not.

  The Vendor Support Initiative program allows companies to buy invoices from businesses who've worked with the state and are waiting for their money. These companies make a profit by collecting the interest the state pays on overdue bills. Under the program, some vendors are getting paid, while others have to wait for a budget.

Cindy Davis says her office furniture supply store in Springfield can't wait.

"We used to be the largest supplier of metal office furniture to the state of Illinois and that is no longer because we just can't be a bank," she said.

When asked, Governor Bruce Rauner said he doesn't know what the eligibility requirements are.

"I'd have to check in terms of what channels of decision making process," he said. "I can say this, it is critical to having balanced budgets, it's critical to saving taxpayer money that we have a modern IT system in the state of Illinois."

Comptroller Leslie Munger recently told legislators that her office is getting $250 million in accounting system upgrades. The governor's office says a few IT vendors are using the program right now, but many of the contracts cover multiple years and support functions involving human services and public safety.

Davis said she's frustrated that some business will get money while others have no idea when Illinois will pay them. She said she doesn't plan to work with the state until there is a budget.

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