The Illinois State Comptroller is voicing an optimistic, yet cautious message now that the two-year-old state budget impasse is over.
Susana Mendoza says the bond rating agencies can rest assured the state can continue honoring its commitments to bond-holders and the pension funds.
But, she says this budget will not solve all the problems right away because it will take years for Illinois to pay off the 15 billion dollar backlog of unpaid bills.
"This is the baton that our office has been handed and we are prepared to run with it and do the best we can to stabilize our finances. Please be assured that in the coming days, weeks and months, my office will implement this budget in a way that best protects taxpayers."
Although state vendors will still have to wait longer than they'd like to be caught up on payments, Mendoza says there is finally a path forward.
"We will start by leveraging federal matching dollars to pay down interest-accruing debt as quickly as possible. State businesses will have the stability and predictability they need to begin hiring again. Our state's schools and universities will receive critical funds, giving them the chance to open on-time in the fall."
Mendoza says the bipartisan Debt Transparency bill, which awaits the governor's signature, will give a true monthly account of the state's accrued debt. She says this is one way her office is bringing new accounting transparency to the budget process.
Former Illinois governor Jim Edgar had been calling on legislative leaders and Governor Bruce Rauner to come to a budget agreement for the last two years.
So after this week's budget agreement in the General Assembly ... the two-term Republican governor is hoping the bipartisanship will last.
"We've got to get away from the partisan politics, and really, as the General Assembly I think demonstrated this week, do what's best for the state, not necessarily what's best politically."
Edgar made his comments on the Illinois Public Radio talk show, "The 21st."
Ten Republicans in the Illinois House joined Democrats on Thursday to override Rauner's veto on the income tax increase that will help fund the budget agreement.
Edgar says politically the governor can now "have his cake and eat it too," because he can benefit from the income tax increase ... while vocally opposing it.