Illinois sells first $1.5 billion of bonds to pay overdue bills

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CHICAGO • Illinois on Tuesday sold the first $1.5 billion of a planned $6 billion of tax-exempt debt in the U.S. municipal market, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch winning $1 billion of general obligation bonds and J.P. Morgan Securities winning $500 million of bonds in competitive bidding.

The state is scheduled to sell the remaining $4.5 billion of bonds through a team of underwriters next week. Proceeds are earmarked for paying off a huge pile of overdue bills from vendors and service providers.