They call it "Deadbeat Illinois," and it's an impressive set of stories ready to run in Illinois newspapers starting Sunday as an offshoot of the AP-APME Broken Budgets initiative.
I'llinois simply hasn't been paying its bills, and the state's newspapers and AP have documented the delinquency.
The stories will raise eyebrows nationally, and should pound away at a pathetic situation in Illinois government. Here's the budget item for the lead story, which will be sent for use nationally:
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. _ Plagued by budget deficits, the state of Illinois has made it the norm to dump its problems on thousands of businesses, charities and local governments by refusing to pay its bills for weeks or even months at a time. An Associated Press analysis of state records shows Illinois had nearly $1.5 billion in bills that had been sitting around for at least two months as of Sept. 8 because state government lacked the money to pay for office supplies, temp services, drug abuse treatment and even funerals for the indigent. The practice is unusual even among states with equally dire budget situations, disguising the depth of Illinois' financial problems and turning groups into unwilling lenders, without any permanent solution in sight. By Associated Press reporter Christopher Wills.
We'll highlight this story on apme.com next week and link to packages from the papers.
Congratuations to the Illinois AP and member papers for raising the bar in Broken Budgets reporting. .
-- Bob Heisse