Coalition of Social Service Agencies Files Lawsuit Against Governor, State Agencies
On Wednesday, Pay Now Illinois, a coalition of 64 Illinois-based human and social service agencies and companies filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bruce Rauner and the directors of six statewide agencies seeking immediate payment for work performed under contracts that date back to July 1, 2015, the beginning of the state’s current fiscal year.
The coalition says more than $100 million is owed by the state.
The social service agencies involved provide services such as housing for the homeless, health care, services for senior citizens, sexual abuse counseling and programs for at-risk youth.
“This suit is about upholding a contract and paying your bills, basic good business practices,” Andrea Durbin of Pay Now Illinois said in a statement. Durbin also serves as chief executive officer of Illinois Collaboration on Youth, a statewide network of organizations providing services to at-risk youth and their families.
“We have delivered services under binding contracts, and now the state needs to pay us. We have delivered – and we continue to deliver – essential services to Illinois’ most vulnerable population of men, women and children as required under our contracts with the state. We are doing our part. We expect the state to do the same,” the statement reads.
The lawsuit charges the governor and other state officials acted illegally by failing to make payments on contracts while continuing to enforce them. It also claims that Rauner’s June 25, 2015 veto of certain appropriation bills was “unlawful impairment, or interference with the agencies’ constitutional right to a legal remedy for the non-payment of these contracts,” according to a press release about the lawsuit.
“State agencies signed contracts with the social service providers, in some cases even after the governor’s veto of the budget,” the statement reads.
“The governor vetoed appropriation bills, and then his Administration entered into contracts for those same services,” Durbin said in a statement. “The state agencies have enforced these contracts, and have never suggested suspending or terminating them. They can’t simultaneously have us enter into a contract and perform services and then say there isn’t money to pay for them. The state has been having its cake and eating it too. That is just not good business.”
Rauner said in a statement issued by spokesperson Catherine Kelly:
"While we understand that frustration is driving many worthwhile organizations to seek solutions anywhere, including the courts, the only solution is for the General Assembly to pass a balanced reform oriented budget as soon as possible."
Related 'Chicago Tonight' content
May 3: We have the latest on action from Springfield, including whether or not a secret budget working group has a grand bargain in the works to finally break the budget stalemate.
April 18: Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger tightens state lawmakers' belts, hoping to force a budget deal. Will that work to break the deadlock?
April 7: State Republican leaders unveiled a $1.3 billion spending plan Thursday that they say will be a “lifeline” for social services and other programs that have struggled financially in the ongoing budget impasse.
April 4: State lawmakers return to Springfield this week to vote on a number of measures, but not on the agenda is the No. 1 topic of discussion—the state budget that should have gone into effect last year.
Feb. 19: A persistent group of nonprofit organizations that provide services to the homeless met with Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday to push for his support of a bill that would unlock $310 million in state aid to fund homeless programs.
Feb. 9: The head of the state's largest social service organization says the state's ongoing budget impasse has now reached a crisis level that could impact the lives of hundreds of thousands vulnerable citizens.
Oct. 14, 2015: A dire report from Illinois' comptroller today: The state budget stalemate has reached an alarming point in the state's ability to make a significant pension payment and pay bills.