Fiscal Focus

Debt Transparency Act Fact Sheet

August 21, 2017

Debt Transparency Initiative (Passed House 70-40-0; Passed Senate 37-16-0)

House Bill 3649 (Rep. Fred Crespo - Stephanie A. Kifowit - Marcus C. Evans, Jr. - Brandon W. Phelps, Silvana Tabares, Martin J. Moylan, Robert Martwick, Arthur Turner, Kelly M. Cassidy, Natalie A. Manley, Kathleen Willis, Jehan Gordon-Booth, LaToya Greenwood, Gregory Harris, Frances Ann Hurley, Theresa Mah, Emily McAsey, Christian L. Mitchell, Anna Moeller, Carol Sente, Lawrence Walsh, Jr., Emanuel Chris Welch, William Davis, Justin Slaughter, Michelle Mussman, Carol Ammons, Jerry Costello, II, Katie Stuart, Michael Halpin, Sue Scherer, Litesa E. Wallace and Elizabeth Hernandez)


Senate Bill 1652 (Sen. Andy Manar - Pat McGuire - Iris Y. Martinez - Melinda Bush - Don Harmon, Laura M. Murphy, Omar Aquino, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Linda Holmes and Steve Stadelman)



The state’s unprecedented fiscal challenges require a full weighing of outstanding vouchers and the ramifications of the $12 billion-plus unpaid bill backlog. House Bill 3649/Senate Bill 1652 seeks to provide a more accurate accounting of bills being held by each state agency and the late interest penalties the state is accruing. 



After appropriations are made and services are provided, each state agency sends bills to the Comptroller for payment. However, if vouchers for payment are held at the agency level due to a lack of appropriation or processing delays, these liabilities remain largely hidden from the Comptroller.


The state’s Prompt Payment Act, which assigns a 1% per month penalty to bills that are 90 days past due, applies to a currently unknown number of the bills being held by the agencies.


Current reporting requirements to the Comptroller are limited because state law only requires agencies to report on October 1 of each year the aggregate amount of bills being held on the previous June 30. This data, which is ultimately published on the Comptroller’s website, is grossly outdated by the time it is received and does not accurately reflect the real-time situation.


House Bill 3649/Senate Bill 1652:

The intent of this legislation is to reveal such liabilities and to identify potential late interest penalties that may be accruing and obligations of debt owed by the state.


House Bill 3649/Senate Bill 1652 requires, on a monthly basis, each state agency to report to the Comptroller the amount of bills being held, the liabilities for which there are appropriations, and those liabilities subject to prompt payment penalties. These reports will be shared with the public on the Comptroller’s website. The legislation is supported by the Better Government Association.