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State comptroller's office 'bombarded' with 5,000 calls a week

State Comptroller Leslie Munger said Wednesday it is wrong for the state to ask nonprofit agencies to wait to be paid. | Ashlee Rezin/For the Sun-Times

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said Wednesday that her office is being “bombarded” with about 5,000 calls a week from social service organizations wondering if and when they’ll get state funding.

Munger, talking to the City Club of Chicago, said the ongoing state budget impasse, which is creating that uncertainty, is hurting those “who can least afford it.”

Munger said social service nonprofits are vital because they offer important services at a much lower cost than the state could provide.

“How do we thank them? We ask them, essentially, to float the state,” Munger told a lunchtime gathering at Maggiano’s Little Italy. “This is really wrong, putting them in this role.”

Munger said that at the end of August the state had a $5.5 billion backlog of unpaid bills, which is likely to swell to $8.5 billion by the end of 2015.

“We are digging a hole so deep in this budget right now that if we don’t do something quickly, it’s going to be very difficult for us to get out of it,” Munger said.

Munger said her office is in “constant communication” with various nonprofits and other social service organizations.

“We are basically, in my group, doing everything we can possibly do, working as hard as we can to pay everything we can as fast as we can,” Munger said.

Munger pointed to another cost to the state for not paying bills on time: late fees.

Last year, the state amassed $50 million in such fees, she said.

“It’s a real waste of tax dollars to spend our money this way,” Munger said.