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Illinois backlog of bills tops $5.5 billion

A huge backlog of unpaid bills continues to plague Illinois state government.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka reported Monday that her office ended March with more than $5.5 billion in bills the state couldn't afford to pay. State agencies had their own stacks of bills, so Topinka believes the total backlog was more than $9 billion.

She says Illinois is basically treading water financially. The state is taking in more money from a recent income tax increase, but that is offset by less federal aid and increased pension costs.

The backlog represents money Illinois owes to schools and local governments, businesses that do work for the state and hospitals that care for the poor.

Topinka's office says some of the unpaid bills date back to before Christmas.