Illinois to once again stop paying lottery winners

Illinois will stop paying lottery winners at the end of June, unless something somehow breaks the budget stalemate in the State Capitol. 

Some other consequences could be that construction projects employing 25,000 may shut down, and dozens of social service agencies could close their doors. It comes at an especially bad time for those with mental health problems.

Many found the massacre in Orlando deeply disturbing, but especially some being treated for mental illness at Thresholds and other agencies. It added to the anxiety they already feel at state government's failure for a year to pay human service providers across Illinois.

“Clients are very afraid of losing services. Staff is afraid of losing their jobs. A lot of organizations across the state have laid people off,” said Heather O’Connell, Thresholds VP for Public Policy.

O'Donnell said Thresholds has avoided laying off any of its 1,500 staffers, even though the state owes it nearly $8 million. Springfield's feuding politicians have offered competing stopgap funding proposals. Democrats who control the General Assembly sent their bill to the governor's desk.

“This bill will enable providers to get by for a few more months. So, we are urging the governor to sign this bill,” O’Connell said.

But Governor Rauner says that $700 million Democratic proposal on his desk leaves too many vital government services unfunded.

“That bill would not be the answer. What we've introduced is a bill that is the answer. It does fund those human services, but it also does essential government services and other health care that's not covered in that bill,” Rauner said.

The Republican proposal provides money for state prisons. Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan has blocked operating funds for the prisons. Some food vendors have already stopped deliveries, forcing the state to find emergency supplies. Electric and water utilities and other prison suppliers threaten to do the same.

So, how close is a full-blown crisis?

“When does a crisis happen or an issue erupt? Can't tell for sure. We've been doing the best we can,” Rauner said.

The current fiscal year for which, unbelievably, we still don't have a budget, actually ends in just 16 days.