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June 2010
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Illinois: The Deadbeat State

June 15th. Many people who work for a living were paid on June 15th.  My wife was not one of them. She’s not unemployed, nor does she volunteer her time. No, much worse: She works for a entity that has a contract with the State of Illinois. The State of Illinois has not paid that company for its services, services which have been provided and will continue to be provided. That company has run out of money as its client– the State of Illinois– has not paid its bill according to the contract. Therefore, that company– who has lived up to the terms under the contract– is not able to pay its employees.

But these employees still go to work. The theory behind going to work and not getting paid is that once the state pays its bill, the employees will get paid. This happened last year around this time. My wife worked for roughly eight weeks without getting paid. We started to question whether it was smart to continue going to work and not getting paid. Eight weeks of work without getting paid.

The state did eventually pay its bill and my wife did get her back pay. But the problem remains: The State of Illinois is not paying its bills. In the abstract, its too bad even or embarrassing that we live in a deadbeat state. Is Dan Hynes not answering his office telephone because he’s getting collection calls?

Last week, I wrote the following:

Back in December 2009, Dan Hynes also noted that Illinois had $5.1 billion– read that again, $5.1 billion– in unpaid bills. And that number did not include the $2.25 billion in short-term loans the state had to repay, plus the additional $1.4 billions (again that word: billion) in unpaid health care bills, and Illinois effective backlog was over $8.75 billion.

 $5.1 billion in unpaid bills.

In the abstract, $5.1 billion in unpaid bills is embarrassing to citizens of the deadbeat state, however, when a family loses income, it can be devastating. My family is fortunate, having two incomes and a safety net, however, many other families are not so lucky. Think about a sole provider not bringing home a paycheck for eight weeks. The rent or mortgage that doesn’t get paid. The car note that doesn’t get paid. Using credit cards to but groceries. Still paying for childcare. Not getting paid is devastating.

And where are our legislators? Not in Springfield doing the job that we pay then to do– I wonder if they are collecting their checks?– but rather back home raising funds for the November election.

I didn’t have the opportunity to contact my state representative and state senator today to see what they are doing to get these $5.1 billion in unpaid bills paid, but I intend to do so. I also intend on asking whether they are being paid for their “work”, when other Illinoisans are working without getting a check, waiting for them, ironically, to do their job.

It just doesn’t seem right. And unfortunately, far too things just don’t seem right with respect to our state. And our legislators, from the governor on down, just aren’t doing enough to change that feeling I have.

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Comment from toni urcina
Time October 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Here it is October and the non pay problem continues. I have been working as a personal assistant since August 17, 2010 and, as yet, have not received a pay check. the state owes me over $3,000.00. Despite the fact that I report for work every shift I cannot pay my rent or buy groceries . This job is my sole source of income. My credit is suffering, not because i have been laid off or downsized but just because the state of Illinois has not paid me. I know many personal assistants that are in the same situation as I am in. We will be forced to look for other employment which will leave Illinois’s most vulnerable citizens with no one to care for them. What is our recourse? Shouldn’t we be able to sue the state for non payment of work done? I find it appalling that Gov. Quinn gave raises to many of his staffers while Illinois is so far in debt. I’m confident that Quinn has not gone 8 weeks without being paid with no end in sight . What can be done to rectify this injustice?

Comment from Administrator
Time October 16, 2010 at 11:04 am

Thanks. My wife is in the exact same position. When I was on WGN radio last weekend, I mentioned our frustration with people working, but not getting paid. Its nothing short of absolutely ridiculous. I agree with you 100%– if you don’t mind, I’m going to use your comment in my next blog post. It just boggles my mind that people are considering voting for Quinn, when many state employees/contractors for state employees have not been paid and it appears he is doing nothing about it. My blog has moved to ChicagoNow. Please feel free to read and comment there in the future.

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