Chris Essig

Walkthroughs, tips and tricks from a data journalist in eastern Iowa

State makes an emergency purchase of…bullets?

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The wind up:

SPRINGFIELD-The volume of Illinois’ unpaid bills will likely increase by $1 billion in the next three months, according to a new report.

By the end of June, the backlog of unpaid bills could exceed $5.5 billion “absent any other developments,” noted Comptroller Dan Hynes, in a quarterly report on the state’s finances. Now, the state’s 200,000 unpaid bills total $4.5 billion.

Ugh.

More:

Meanwhile, the comptroller’s report is not putting much faith in the ability of lawmakers to correct the problem before they adjourn in May.

“There appear to be limited options left for the remainder of this fiscal year to substantially mitigate these conditions,” noted the report. “And the outlook for fiscal year 2011 is even more ominous.”

Link.

That’s bad. Real bad. The state’s budget crisis is being felt across the state, high and wide. And I’m not sure how many different ways we can report on it…

…Unless unbelievable things like this continue to happen…

And the pitch:

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Corrections was forced to make an emergency purchase of ammunition last month because of the state’s inability to pay its bills.

The purchase happened after one of the state’s ammunition vendors, Shore Galleries Inc., refused to ship bullets unless the company was paid up front. The state owes the Lincolnwood firm $6,000.

The department was able to quickly find a new vendor in Indiana and ordered 761,000 rounds for nearly $200,000.

?

I have seen examples of vendors getting upset at the state because they are waiting months to be paid. But an ammunition vendor refusing to sell bullets to the state? That’s scare stuff.

Fortunately, the shortage would have only affected cadet training courses, meaning public safety was not in harms way. But imagine if the situation gets worse…which it seems is more and more likely as the session wears on…

Meanwhile, the unions were upset. AFSCME, in particular, has been calling for a tax increase for quite some time now. They say an increase would help vendors, like this ammunition dealer, get paid on time:

“This is just another example of the state’s broken budget coming home to roost,” said [Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union].

Stay tuned for bizarre happenings in the Capitol.

Image posted by Flickr user DeusXFlorida. It is used under a Creative Commons license.

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Written by csessig

April 14, 2010 at 9:28 pm

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