July 5 Illinois' general fund revenue grew by 6.7 percent in fiscal 2013 over fiscal 2012, slightly better than expected, mainly propelled by stronger income tax receipts, a state legislative commission reported on Friday.
The state collected $36 billion in revenue from taxes, federal funding and other sources in the fiscal year that ended June 30, marking a $2.26 billion increase from the previous fiscal year, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. Illinois' collections exceeded commission estimates by $348 million or slightly less than 1 percent.
Income tax collections accounted for $1.74 billion of the increase, with the state getting a one-time revenue surge in April from taxpayers who accelerated their income and capital gains at the end of 2012 to avoid expected federal income tax increases in 2013.
Illinois used money from this so-called April surprise to pay down its huge backlog of overdue bills. State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka reported last week that Illinois ended fiscal 2013 with an estimated $6.1 billion in unpaid bills, down from $7.5 billion at the end of fiscal 2012. But she warned that the bill pile could balloon to nearly $9 billion by December.
A structural budget imbalance and a nearly $100 billion unfunded public pension liability have shoved Illinois' bond ratings down the credit scale to the lowest levels among states. A legislative conference committee has been meeting to come up with a fix for pensions, which are squeezing out funding for core state services. However, the head of the 10-member committee said Wednesday it will not meet a July 9 deadline set by Governor Pat Quinn.
Sales taxes were up a tepid 1.8 percent, or $129 million, in fiscal 2013, while federal funding, including Medicaid reimbursements, jumped by $472 million, according to the commission.