CHICAGO — Illinois finished fiscal 2013 owing $1.4 billion less than it did in fiscal 2012, but still faces a backlog of $6.1 billion of bills.

The improvement is largely due to the state collecting $1.3 billion more than expected in taxes during the spring, according to state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who outlined the numbers in a quarterly report released this week.

Topinka said it was probably a one-time occurrence as residents and businesses sped up transactions to take advantage of 2012 tax rates. The state's backlog is expected to grow again in coming weeks and could reach $7.5 billion by the end of August.

The comptroller's office ended the fiscal year with $3.3 billion in general fund payables, up by $376 million from the same period last year. The general fund balance on June 30, 2013 showed a negative balance of $2.16 billion, an improvement from negative $2.8 billion at the end of fiscal 2012.

In fiscal 2013, base revenues increased by 7.5%, led by income tax collections, which grew by 9.7%.

"Although the backlog of general funds bills at the end of the fiscal year was lower than at the end of fiscal year 2012, serious long-term challenges remain," the comptroller said in the newsletter. "While Illinois appears to have made improvements in its overall financial condition during the past year, much of that is attributable to one-time revenue events," she said. "Further action will be required before Illinois can regain its fiscal footing, especially looking ahead to the scheduled reduction in income tax rates during fiscal year 2015."

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