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When Illinois can't pay its bills on time, the interest penalties it's required to add on deliver another blow to the cash-strapped state - but they do little to ease the pain of waiting vendors.

Last year, $27.1 million was paid in interest under the Prompt Payment Act. Bills were paid months or even a year late.

In 2010, at the height of the state's budget woes, interest payments totaled more than $62.3 million after sharply increasing over the previous five years.

But the cash only goes to private businesses and not-for-profit entities.

Government bodies, such as schools, cities and counties also owed by the state, are not eligible to receive any interest.

As of Sept. 8, more than $493,000 already had been spent on interest for late bills.

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