The State of Illinois is being sued for not paying some of its social service contractors. Lawmakers and the governor have not agreed on a budget in 10 months, but the state authorized contracts for those organizations to keep working even though the government cannot pay them without a budget.
Nancy Ronquillo, with Children’s Home and Aid, provides services for low income children. It’s one of the contractors suing the state for payment.
“It is just good business to honor your contracts and pay for what you are expecting your contracted partner to deliver,” Ronquillo said.
Ronquillo said the state owes more than $100 million to the more than 60 organizations suing for the last 10 months of work.
It’s the first sign of a major action by several groups owed money by the state since Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed most of the budget approved by Democrats, saying their budget was not balanced.
Ronquillo’s group, like many others, has repeated the same line time and again during the last 10 months.
“We have great faith that our elected officials are going to figure this out very, very soon,” she said.
When asked if the lawsuit is a sign that that faith is gone that there will be a state budget approved, Ronquillo said, “I think the lawsuit is another strategy to move this solution forward.”
Court orders have kept much of the state government operating while there’s been no state budget.
In a statement, Catherine Kelly, a spokesperson for the Governor, said, “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.”
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.