The state closed out the calendar year with a record backlog of more than $1.7 billion in bills, according to a report released this week by Comptroller Daniel Hynes.

The figure is up from $1.3 billion a year earlier. The number of days Illinois takes to pay its bills is also on the rise, increasing to 34 business days from 22 days a year ago. The state has in the past issued short-term general obligation notes to help reduce delays.

Factors contributing to the delays include a decline in corporate income tax collections and stagnant growth in sales tax revenue. The report cautions that the state’s cash flow problems could get worse due to a slowing economy that could result in further tax declines.

The General Assembly is also considering a plan to divert about $375 million in gasoline taxes collected in the Chicago region to the Illinois Regional Transportation Authority as part of a transit bailout package.

The report follows one released this week from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability that notes the poor performance of corporate income and sales taxes. The stronger performances of individual income taxes and the inheritance tax have helped offset other declines, but it’s unclear whether those taxes will continue to meet or exceed forecasts in the second half of the fiscal year that runs until June 30.

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