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Topinka says tax dollars paying for debt

SPRINGFIELD -- Monday is the last day to file taxes.
SPRINGFIELD -- Monday is the last day to file taxes. You might wonder where your money goes. The Illinois Comptroller says, "down the drain." WCIA-3's Brittany Harris finds out why.

Judy Baar Topinka says taxpayers see nothing in return and their money is going toward interest owed on unpaid bills; and the debt continues climbing year after year.

"I just don't care to give them any money until they get this all straightened out."

But, it might be awhile. The state owes a lot of money to a lot of people.

That's frustrating for Frances Chaplain. She works at UIS.

"There's no light at the end of the tunnel for it to stop, because every time you see something in the paper, it's just getting deeper and deeper every time."

The state is working to pay down all that debt and is using your tax dollars to do it. So far this year, $47-million has been spent on interest alone; last year, about $86-million.

"The $86-million could go to the pension fund. It could go to human services. It could go toward building highways. Where does it go? To pay debt."

Ron McNeill keeps a close eye on Illinois' finances. He says this has been going on for awhile.

"So, what do we have to do? We have to more wisely spend money. So, first we have to deal with the pension issue and then fiscal constraints. That's not cutting everything, but being very wise so we can begin to pay bills on time."

Until that happens, taxpayers will continue to pick up the tab.

"I don't mind paying for the veterans and for the disabled and the poor, but that's got to change too."

Some lawmakers have suggested selling off bonds to help pay down the state's debt, but Comptroller Topinka says that's not a good move. She says we already have one of the worst credit ratings in the entire country, so it would be too risky to take out another loan.

The lieutenant governor is working on a plan to show taxpayers where their money goes every year. Sheila Simon wants the state to give out receipts.

You'd get one after you pay your taxes online. It would break down all the numbers and explain how the state is spending your money.

She says taxpayers have a right to know and it looks like some federal lawmakers agree. They're working on a similar plan.
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