SPRINGFIELD -- Legislative Democrats and Republicans bickered again Tuesday over a proposal to borrow billions of dollars to pay those owed money by the state.

SPRINGFIELD -- Legislative Democrats and Republicans bickered again Tuesday over a proposal to borrow billions of dollars to pay those owed money by the state.


Rep. Esther Golar, D-Chicago, proposed House Bill 6240, which would borrow $4 billion to pay schools, universities, healthcare providers, local governments and state vendors who have been owned money for more than 30 days. 


“We are in a crisis in this state because of unpaid bills,” Golar told the House Executive Committee, which did not act on the legislation because of possible technical modifications to it.


Borrowing has been the source of conflict between Democrats and Republicans since the 2011 income tax increase. Democrats say selling bonds to pay overdue bills is simply refinancing existing debts. Republicans say the state cannot afford to borrow any more money. 


The state has 168,000 bills that total  $7.1 billion, according to Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.


Topinka testified against the legislation, saying the state’s economy is improving and that she is making some progress at paying off the overdue bills.


“The worst thing you can do is start applying for new credit cards,” she said.


Chris Wetterich can be reached at (217) 782-3095.