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Illinois began its new budget year staring at a huge stack of old bills.

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Monday that Illinois had between $7.5 billion and $8 billion worth of old bills still left to pay when the new fiscal year began this month. That's slightly better than the total for the two previous years, when Illinois started out with about $8.5 billion in overdue bills.

When Illinois pays bills late, it means delays for the businesses and community groups that provide services to the state. They sometimes have to borrow money or cut staff to make ends meet.

It also means money from the new budget goes to paying old bills, leaving less cash for the future.

State revenues are up this year but so are costs.

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