A grim state financial picture only promises to get worse without action by Gov. Pat Quinn and lawmakers, Comptroller Dan Hynes said Tuesday.

A grim state financial picture only promises to get worse without action by Gov. Pat Quinn and lawmakers, Comptroller Dan Hynes said Tuesday.

Quinn fired back that he is actively dealing with the state's financial mess.

Hynes said the state had $2.9 billion in unpaid bills stockpiled at the end of September, a record for the first quarter of the state's fiscal year.

The time it takes to pay bills is also a record, 61 business days after the bills get to the comptroller's office. However, state agencies often hold on to bills for an indeterminate period before submitting them to Hynes' office for payment.

"We have a crisis that is mounting and growing," Hynes said at a news conference. "Real people are bearing the brunt of the state's failure to meet its most basic obligations."

Hynes complained that Quinn is not providing the leadership needed for the state to cope with its financial shortfalls. Hynes is running against Quinn in the Democratic primary for governor.

"We seem to be drifting from one day to the next," Hynes said. "The leadership has to come from the governor's office and we are not getting that leadership."

Quinn's office took issue with Hynes. In a written statement it said Quinn has committed to cutting $2 billion from the budget, is trimming the state workforce by 2,600 jobs and is saving more money through unpaid days off for other workers.

"Governor Quinn has had to deal with the political realities of getting a budget passed by the General Assembly. He has not been on the sidelines," said the statement from Quinn spokesman Bob Reed.

He added that Quinn "does not merely outline the state's financial problems on a quarterly basis. He is working every day to fix them."

Quinn has pushed for an income tax increase, but been unable to get lawmakers to approve the measure. He has said he will renew the effort after the February primary election. Hynes said the state can't afford to wait that long to address the problem.

Hynes wants to cut state spending by $1.6 billion immediately and install a graduated income tax that will apply to incomes over $200,000.

Illinois' financial situation deteriorated significantly in the last year. The $2.9 billion in backlogged bills this year stood at $1.8 billion a year ago.

The bill situation could well get worse, Hynes said. State employee health insurance was underfunded by $600 million in the budget and the comptroller's office estimates $500 million in Medicaid bills are still sitting in state agencies waiting to be forwarded for payment.

In addition, the state has taken out $2.25 billion in short-term loans that must be repaid by the end of June.

Last week the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability reported a significant drop in revenue from taxes tied to economic activity. Officials were expecting drops in the income and sales tax, but both performed worse than expected.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.