Judge Says State of Illinois Could Be Held in Contempt of Court if Comptroller Doesn't Pay Social Service Providers

What happens when the state government is held in contempt of court? The Illinois News Network's Mark Fitton explains how that question even became necessary:

SPRINGFIELD -- U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman is keeping an eye on how well Illinois complies with her order to meet its obligations to citizens with developmental disabilities.

Coleman on Wednesday ordered the state to submit in writing by noon Friday what payments it has made, which payments it has not paid and when any outstanding payments will be made.

The judge also ordered the state to detail all payments it made that may have affected its ability to meet the deadlines she had previously set.

The hearing in Coleman's Chicago courtroom Wednesday morning was sought by advocates for the developmentally disabled. They had filed an emergency motion arguing the state was not meeting its financial responsibilities despite a consent decree and two earlier orders issued by Coleman.

"People with developmental disabilities have been needlessly put at risk of serious harm because of the state's failure to comply with the judge's order," said attorney Barry Taylor, who is leading the case for the advocates.

"While we are pleased that the state has finally begun to make the mandated payments, we will not rest until all services for all of our clients have been paid for by the State," said Taylor, who is vice president for civil rights litigation for Equip for Equality, one of the advocates.

Wednesday afternoon, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger issued a statement saying she appreciated the court's patience and her office would do all it can.

"In the absence of a balanced budget for this fiscal year, my office will continue to work to meet the payment timelines set by the courts despite the state's limited resources," said Munger.

"To be clear: taxpayers deserve better than government by court order," Munger said.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

If Munger and the state can't figure out a way to pay those social service providers, some of them will have to stop providing help to Illinoisans who need it. Mark Brown at the Chicago Sun-Times spoke to one family who relies on help from a group home and who will be put in a difficult situation if it shuts down due to inadequate funding. Check out their story at Reboot Illinois.