* Mark Brown focuses on one of the plaintiffs in the $100 million lawsuit filed against the state yesterday by social service providers which have state contracts, but haven’t been paid because the governor vetoed their appropriations and nothing’s been accomplished since…
[Metropolitan Family Services, which is owed nearly $2 million by the state] has already informed state officials and its own workers that it will discontinue four state programs serving 900 people if there is no state appropriation to fund them by June 30.
The programs slated for closing include small group homes for people with mental health issues, a counseling program for juveniles at risk of winding up in prison, mental health services for children under age 6 who have been the victims of severe trauma, and home visitation services for teenage mothers and their children. […]
Estrada said state officials were disappointed to learn of his agency’s plan to halt the four programs and urged it to continue to provide the services.
“They said, ‘Couldn’t you pay for this privately?’” Estrada said.
Estrada had to explain that private donations, which the organization already solicits, couldn’t possibly cover the gap.
This is the point where somebody always writes me to say the wealthy Rauner should just pay for it himself.
Sorry, even he doesn’t have enough money to fill all the holes created by his intransigence on the budget.
You could hardly find a more vulnerable population that mental health group homes, child victims of severe trauma, impoverished teenage moms and juveniles at risk of going to prison.
This stalemate needs to end.
Coalition chair Andrea Durbin said the state’s contracts with providers contain a clause that allows the state to cancel or suspend the contracts if there’s no money to pay for the services, but the Rauner administration instead kept the contracts going.
“We’ve been held accountable to the contracts. We’ve been asked to deliver services, to report our data, to participate in program oversight,” Durbin said. “You can’t with one hand ask people to do work and with the other hand deny them the ability to be paid.”
Durbin cast the lawsuit as “strictly a business case,” saying the state’s failure to make good on its debts to the providers has a ripple effect on banks, creditors and landlords who also do business with the providers.
The lawsuit, which also targets the directors of the Department on Aging and the departments of Human Services, Public Health, Healthcare and Family Services and Corrections, claims Rauner created an “unconstitutional impairment” of the contracts in his June 25, 2015, veto because the administration subsequently insisted on enforcing contract terms despite having no money to pay.
The complaint also alleges the veto ruled out the normal remedy for such situations. Unpaid state bills go to the Court of Claims, which awards payment based on contracts backed by spending authorized by the governor.
The complaint demands immediate payment. No hearing has been scheduled.