SPRINGFIELD -- The state of Illinois owed vendors, hospitals, local government, schools and others nearly $5.6 billion at the end of March, according to the state comptroller, but one Springfield nonprofit says it’s more worried about potential Medicaid cuts than what the state owes.

SPRINGFIELD -- The state of Illinois owed vendors, hospitals, local government, schools and others nearly $5.6 billion at the end of March, according to the state comptroller, but one Springfield nonprofit says it’s more worried about potential Medicaid cuts than what the state owes.


The amount of unpaid bills is up by $1.3 billion since the end of December, according to state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s report for the third quarter of the state fiscal year.


“While part of that growth can be attributed to dollars owed for pension payments … the majority represents what is due to vendors,” the report said.


The total includes only bills that have been submitted to the comptroller for payment, not those that have not yet been submitted for payment by state agencies. When those are thrown in, Topinka’s office estimates the total tops $9 billion.


Tax revenues to the state are up while federal revenues are down, which creates “a situation where Illinois is essentially treading water,” the report said.


The comptroller predicted that the bill backlog in her office at the end of the fiscal year will be about what it was last year -- $3.8 billion.


“However even if there is a decline in the backlog of bills at IOC (the comptroller’s office), there will be an end of year increase in the backlog of Medicaid bills that will offset any appearance of improvement,” the report said.


Ron Wampler, administrator of Brother James Court, a Springfield non-profit that serves developmentally disabled adult men, said the state owes the organization $950,000, up from the $217,000 it was owed in September 2011, when the Associated Press compiled a database of all money owed by the state.


But Wampler said he is more concerned about the 8 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates that has been proposed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.


“If you’re late, you eventually get the money,” Wampler said. “We could lose about $340,000 if it’s 8 percent. That’s what’s going to hurt us more than a late payment.”


The organization borrows from its savings to make ends meet, so it forgoes interest on that money.


“The mom and pops – they can’t borrow from themselves because they don’t have reserves,” Wampler said. “I’m probably not hurting as much as others.”


Still, Wampler isn’t happy that his organization and others are being used by the state like a bank when Brother James Court could be spending the money on capital needs, such as a new roof or for new vehicles.


“We didn’t raise the money for it to supplement the state,” Wampler said. “This isn’t our emergency. It’s the state’s.”


Chris Wetterich can be reached at (217) 788-1523.