State newspapers, AP join together for series on unpaid bills

State newspapers, AP join together for series on unpaid bills

UPDATED 8 a.m. Friday

"Deadbeat Illinois: The Painful Price of Unpaid Bills" is a joint project by The Associated Press and its members across Illinois — including The News-Gazette.

The goal is to highlight the state's decision not to pay its bills on time and to examine the extent of the impact on the people, businesses and human-service groups across the state.

These stories will appear in The News-Gazette in print and then online. As they are posted, we'll link to them from here.

The installments:

The opening piece, which appeared in print Sunday, looks at how Illinois turned the delay in payment from the exception to the rule. Other stories from that day include a look at what is and isn't included in the project, and a look at who is owed what. For health care providers, the unpaid bills show only part of the debt.

The second installment includes a look at how businesses scrape by while waiting for their money; a county-by-county list of the total debt; debts by category of expense; quotes from those who are owed money; and how funeral homes no longer are paid for public aid funerals.

The third installment includes a look at how late payments are the "new normal" for those who provide services to the disabled, and the federal requirements that mostly protect child welfare agencies. 

The fourth installment looks at education. Like other entities, state universities are dealing with chronic late payments. Tuition has been on the rise at all the state universities; here's a chart showing the increase in the past five years and here's a chart showing how much they're owed by the state. School districts are having trouble with their transportation costs and here is a look at what area school districts are owed by the state. And school districts are waiting longer to get smaller checks.

On the Web

To explore a searchable database of the Illinois government's unpaid bills from Sept. 8, go to http://billpay.qconline.com.

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