With Illinois Lottery suing the state over unpaid prizes, Democrats in the Illinois Senate have a plan to address the problem.
Anyone lucky enough to win $25,000 or more playing the Illinois Lottery is waiting for their money – officials say without a state budget, there's no way to pay. Hence, the lawsuit.
Democrats' answer? Authorize the spending. The measure approved by Senate Democrats, Senate Bill 2046, also includes funding for social services, like elder abuse monitoring and addiction treatment – billions of dollars in all ($1.8 billion from the General Revenue Fund and $2 billion from other state funds).
"Ultimately, we need a budget," says sponsor Sen. Heather Steans, of Chicago. "We should be having an overall, comprehensive budget. In lieu of us not getting through this budget impasse the goal here is to make sure that we don't allow the human service agencies across the state to get decimated."
But Republicans, including Gov. Bruce Rauner ’s administration, say it'll lead to an unbalanced budget and a tax hike.
"I feel like I'm being punked," Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine said during the floor debate, noting that with court-ordered and automatic spending, Illinois is on track to spend more than it takes in.