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Social Service Agencies Say State of Illinois ‘Heartlessly’ Refuses To Pay Them

The State of Illinois is being called “heartless” in a new court filing from attorneys representing nearly 100 social service organizations that are owed money.

Agencies that provide care for seniors in their homes, advocate for early childhood education and consult victims of sexual assault have all joined together in one lawsuit saying the State of Illinois needs to pay them now. They had contracts to do work for the state during a year-long budget impasse, but the legislature hasn’t approved a measure to fully reimburse them.

The state argues it doesn’t have to fully pay those agencies, according to the language of the contracts. And attorneys for the state say a stopgap budget approved in June of this year will partially reimburse those social services for the year they went without any payment from the state.

But those suing Illinois for payments say it’s “no answer” that contractors will get “something” from the state government. They argue the social service infrastructure is on the verge of collapse, and want Cook County Judge Rodolfo Garcia to issue an opinion quickly, because six agencies are close to closing because they haven’t been paid.

They also argue it’s ironic the state agreed to pay government employees when there was no budget, but then argue the state doesn’t have to pay the contractors who also continued to work during the budget impasse.

“There is no attempt to explain why (the State of Illinois) — without appropriations — can spend billions on themselves while they nickel and dime the (social services),” attorneys for the agencies wrote.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.

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