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Illinois taxpayers paying billions to ‘manage’ debt

Illinois taxpayers realize the state is buried in debt.

Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension systems alone owe at least $130 billion, but now comes a new warning about the high cost of simply managing that debt.

In her latest fiscal report, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka warns that Illinois will see billion dollar payments in interest on the state’s exploding debt.

“(Last year) Illinois spent $1.45 billion on its general obligation bonds’ interest alone,” Topinka wrote in the December Fiscal Focus report. “Every dollar spent on interest is a dollar not spent on some other pressing need.”

The state rushed to borrow to pay for roads, bridges and schools, but that at least left the state with something to show for its spending, she writes. Borrowing for pensions has left little more than debt.

“Spending priorities really suffer,” said Cory Eucalitto, author of State Budget Solutions’ fourth annual report on state debt. “That’s bad for taxpayers who expect a quality education for their children and all of the other state services.”

Eucalitto’s newly released report details sky-rocketing debt in all 50 states.

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