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Quinn wants to borrow $1 billion to pay bills
Associated Press
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Published: 10/28/2009 12:01 AM

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SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that he wants Illinois to take a short-term loan of $900 million to get the indebted state through the winter.

The state is already struggling with a budget that relies on debt and putting off unpaid bills to close a deficit that topped $11 billion last summer. And Quinn's office noted earlier this month that revenue could fall another $900 million short of what was expected.

Short-term borrowing is routine for state government. Illinois borrowed $1 billion in May and $1.25 billion in August to pay piled-up bills, but those loans and the one Quinn's proposing need to be paid back before the end of the fiscal year.

"You need to make sure that we manage our cash," the Democratic governor told reporters after meeting with legislative leaders on the eve of the final days this week of the General Assembly's fall session.

The state has a backlog of bills of $3.7 billion, according to the state comptroller's office. That does not include the $2.25 billion owed in short-term loans.

The money would help pay for the $205 million that lawmakers put back into a college grant program two weeks ago. They left Springfield in July after approving just half the amount needed for the Monetary Award Program because of the budget mess.

After meeting with Quinn, several legislative leaders said they understand the need to borrow, even if they aren't happy about it.

"They're close to no other choice," House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said.

The state comptroller and treasurer must approve a deal. A spokeswoman said Comptroller Dan Hynes had not heard about the plan. Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias said through a spokesman that funding higher education and paying backlogged bills will likely outweigh concern about continued borrowing.

Quinn said he expected no opposition to the December loan, including from Hynes, his opponent for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in February.