CHICAGO -- Illinois's general revenue fund hit zero on Friday, leaving $353.8 million of bills unpaid, according to the state comptroller's office.

Jann Ingmire, a spokeswoman for Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, said the zero end-of-the-month balance for July was a new record for the state, which has been setting records for low monthly fund balances over the last two years.

Ms. Ingmire said the comptroller believes the drained fund illustrates the state's current cash-flow problems.

"When you have zero in the bank it becomes evident that more money is needed," she stated. "It emphasizes the comptroller's position that the state is in serious financial trouble and that borrowing would help eliminate some of the pain."

The general fund balance, which changes daily as money comes in and is paid out by the state, is reported monthly by the comptroller on an end-of-the month basis. The general fund is the state's main operating fund.

The comptroller has supported Gov. Jim Edgar's plan for a $900 million short-term borrowing to help pay off an estimated $1 billion of fiscal 1992 bills that were rolled over into fiscal 1993, which began July 1.

However, plans to issue $300 million of the debt were dropped last week by the governor, after state Treasurer Patrick Quinn opposed the general fund borrowing unless $176 million of the proceeds were used to accelerate to August the state's September school aid payment.

In a letter to the editor to state newspapers on Friday, Mr. Quinn reiterated his stance, saying cash-strapped school districts all over Illinois need the money. He supports the remaining $600 million borrowing, which is backed by Medic-aid funds.

Under the state's Casual Deficits Act, any short-term borrowing must be approved by the governor, treasurer, and comptroller.

State officials have said the $600 million of general obligation certificates would be competitively priced Aug. 13. Proceeds will be used to pay bills owed to Medicaid providers.

Ms. Ingmire said of the $353.8 million of unpaid bills at the comptroller's office on Friday, about $185 million were non-Medicaid related.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.