Judge tosses lawsuit seeking Illinois
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[September 01, 2016]
By Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday
dismissed a lawsuit filed against Illinois by a coalition of social
services providers trying to force the state to pay more than $100
million in overdue bills.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rodolfo Garcia ruled that the fiscally
shaky state, which has racked up $8 billion in unpaid bills, was immune
from lawsuits of this type.
He said, however, that his ruling would allow the human services
organizations to take their case quickly to the Illinois Appellate
Andrea Durbin, who heads the Pay Now Illinois coalition that filed the
lawsuit, said the ruling should raise concerns.
"I think that this ruling calls into question any contract anyone has
with the state of Illinois," she said, adding that it means the state
could hold service providers and vendors accountable for their part of a
contract while refusing to pay them.
An impasse between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrats who
control the legislature resulted in an incomplete fiscal 2016 budget and
a fiscal 2017 spending plan that covers only six months. The new fiscal
year began on July 1.
Even with the temporary budget, which included some fiscal 2016
appropriations, Durbin said some members of her group remain unpaid with
no clear indication of when or if state money would begin to flow.
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Garcia’s decision came more than three months after the group of
social service providers, which included a child-welfare
organization led by Illinois first lady Diana Rauner, sued to force
the state to pay bills for work performed since July 2015. The
coalition's website indicates the state now owes them more than $161
Rauner's office declined to comment on Garcia's decision.
The 97 plaintiffs provide services for sex abuse victims, the
homeless, senior citizens and at-risk youth. The plaintiffs argued
they have suffered “acute financial hardship” due to the lack of
The coalition contended Rauner's June 2015 veto of spending bills
impaired their constitutional right to seek a legal remedy for
nonpayment of their various contracts with state government.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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