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Appellate Court Rejects Social Service Agencies Seeking Payment During Budget Impasse

Bilandic Building
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The Bilandic Building in Chicago, where the First Distrcit Appellate Court is based.

Illinois’ struggling social-service agencies lost another round in court Thursday. An appellate panel in Chicago says Illinois does not have to pay unless the state has a real budget.

A three-judge panel unanimously rejected all of the human service providers' claims.

They tried to say Gov. Bruce Rauner exceeded his authority by signing contracts for their work — and then turning around and vetoing money out of the budget to pay them.

But the court rejected that, saying the way the governor and General Assembly have been handling budget bills is within their constitutional rights.

The coalition says it’s disappointed. Andrea Durbin helped organize the lawsuit, and has said human service agencies are holding up their ends of the contracts they’ve signed with state government.

And the state is making demands of them, too, she says — “all kinds of ways in which providers in the plaintiff coalition are asked to be accountable for the state money that we haven’t actually received.”

She urged social service agencies to think carefully before signing contracts for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

This is just the latest in a long series of cases where courts have been asked to order state spending during the impasse.

The plaintiffs still have another similar case pending Downstate, in St. Clair County — and could appeal the Chicago loss up to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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