Rep. Bunting’s Springfield News Update for March 3

In this issue:

  • Illinois’ credit rating tied for worst in the nation
  • IEMA reorganization
  • Record sales for the Illinois Lottery
  • Illinois headlines

Thank you for reading my e-newsletter. For the latest news from state government or to share your ideas and opinions, please visit my legislative website at

Mixed news on Illinois’ credit rating

Illinois got a piece of good news relating to our credit rating, but it served to shine a light on just how poor our financial condition really is.

The good news was that the state’s credit rating was upgraded by the S&P Global ratings agency, up from BBB+ to A-. This upgrade means that Illinois no longer stands alone as the state with the worst credit rating in the country. Instead, we are now tied with New Jersey for the worst credit rating in the country.

The last time Illinois had an A- rating on its bonds was in December 2015. The upgrade was due to many different factors, one of which was the action of state government in paying back billions in debt owed to the federal Unemployment Insurance trust fund, an action taken following strong advocacy by House Republicans. An influx of federal COVID pandemic relief funds; which allowed the state to pay down some debt and shore up its finances; also contributed.

But the ratings agency continued to warn about the substantial burden of Illinois’ unfunded pension liability. And, unfortunately, some of the relief that taxpayers might see from the better rating on state bonds may be overwhelmed by overall increases in nationwide interest rates.

Reorganization of IEMA to protect against terrorism

The top ranks of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are being reorganized to help the state’s disaster response agency be better situated to obtain federal anti-terrorism grants for state and local government.

The new Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security will now include an Illinois Homeland Security Advisory Committee as a permanent board of advisors – replacing the former Illinois Terrorism Task Force. The change will enable the agency to be better positioned to apply for federal grants which can be passed on to local law enforcement and even some eligible private sector entities for protection against issues like cybercrime and electronic sabotage.

The General Assembly has previously passed legislation establishing IEMA as the state’s point agency for counterterrorism. This reorganization will help the agency better perform that role.

Illinois Lottery reports record sales

The report from the Illinois Lottery for the first half of the fiscal year showed $1.8 billion in sales.

The sales were helped along by the publicity surrounding two different jackpots of more than $1 billion, one of which was won by an Illinoisan last summer. The net return of lottery proceeds to the state during the first six months of the fiscal year was $468 million. In the last year for which year-round figures are available, FY 2022, the lottery provided $834 million in proceeds to the state.

Our current bill backlog

When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $1,790,073,270. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $3.1 billion in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.

Illinois headlines

Why are so many people leaving Illinois?

Illinois taxes take up 17% of household income, report shows

Illinois State squad car struck in 3rd Scott’s Law injury of 2023

Illinois Department of Agriculture now accepting Specialty Crop Block Grant proposals