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Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 10:01 am

Keep the Lights On

Manar’s bill might help CWLP get paid


The State of Illinois owes Springfield's municipal utility $12 million. File photo by Patrick Yeagle

As the state passes into month nine of the budget impasse, Illinois’ financial backlog is growing. But higher education and human service providers are not the only people waiting for money from the state.

The State of Illinois owes City Water, Light & Power, Springfield’s municipal utility, $12 million in back pay from the state for electricity and water. A bill proposed in January by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, is set to help CWLP attain their funds, but was postponed in committee on Wednesday.

The senate bill sponsored by Manar and co-sponsor Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D–Chicago, is supposed to help the Springfield-based municipality get paid the amount due to them for Fiscal Year 2016 starting from July 1 2015 to June 30, 2016. The bill was set be heard in the State Government and Veteran Affairs Committee after Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address on Wednesday, but it was never called.

Immediately after the committee meeting, Illinois Times spoke with Manar.

“I was waiting until after we heard the governor’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year,” said Manar. “There was a lack of detail mentioned, and at this moment we haven’t had much time to look at his proposed numbers, so I held the bill.”

So how much longer will the lights stay on for the state agencies based in Springfield?

A statement from Amber Sabin, public information officer at CWLP, revealed that CWLP’s ability to absorb the impact of delayed payments is approaching its end.

“We do not believe that this type of payment delay is sustainable without negatively impacting CWLP and its customers,” Sabin said. “We agree with Sen. Manar and the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Van Pelt, that funding should be appropriated for the state to make payments to CWLP. Whether through passage of this bill or completion of a state budget, the state accounts – now totaling more than $12 million due – need to be brought current. While CWLP has had cash reserves to absorb the lack of state payments so far, the ability to continue that is nearing an end.”

Contact Brittany Hilderbrand at intern@illinoistimes.com.

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