Illinois Lottery winners again might not get paid

 
 
Updated 6/16/2016 7:35 PM
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  • An Illinois Mega Millions lottery ticket sold in Lake Villa.

      An Illinois Mega Millions lottery ticket sold in Lake Villa. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

People who've waited more than a year for Illinois leaders to finish a state budget might start to feel like the prospects of a compromise are similar to the odds of winning the lottery.

Now, Illinois Lottery winners might -- again -- face the prospects of not being paid their jackpots in a timely manner if no spending deal is struck by the end of the month.

Last year, lottery winners sued the state to get their payouts and eventually did after Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers agreed on a patchwork budget plan.

That plan, though, expires with the budget year on June 30. Attorney Thomas A. Zimmerman Jr., who represented about three dozen lottery winners in that lawsuit, said he's prepared to act quickly again.

Illinois Lottery officials wouldn't speculate on what happens after July 1, but they pushed for a short-term budget plan Rauner proposed May 31 that would pay winners and leaned on Democrats.

"Lottery prizes will continue to be paid to all winners prior to the end of the fiscal year, June 30," spokesman Stephen Rossi said. "We encourage the majority party in the General Assembly to pass the governor's stopgap budget proposal."

With interest

Zimmerman said his clients continue to seek $1.5 million in interest from the state as a result of delayed payouts last year.

Some social services advocates and college officials aren't getting payments from the state and warned of serious fallout even as they've watched lottery winners collect before them. A lawsuit from dozens of social services providers is trying to get them paid, too.

Not the only ones

Also in the plan that paid for lottery winners last year: individual suburbs' share of gasoline taxes and gambling taxes.

In the absence of a budget compromise, that money will stop flowing July 1, too.

"History is repeating itself," Des Plaines Mayor Matt Bogusz said.

Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain said officials have talked about what programs might be considered optional if the stalemate continues.

"I think that's the prudent thing to do," he said.

Senate race

Asked Wednesday about Republican Donald Trump's reaction to the Orlando shooting, Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk said: "In general, I've thought he is too bigoted and racist for the Land of Lincoln."

The day before, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth referenced a recent Trump speech that implied American soldiers in Iraq stole money, though a Trump spokesman said later the presumptive nominee was referring to Iraqi soldiers.

Here's part of Duckworth's fundraising email: "He smeared millions of troops who served honorably over the misdeeds of a few -- which is exactly what he does to Muslims, Mexicans, and countless other groups."

Moving on

Mary Hansen, an intern in our Springfield bureau since the beginning of the year, has departed for the Springfield State Journal-Register. She finished the reporting phase of her graduate work for the University of Illinois Springfield after more than five months of covering the Capitol.

So, yes, something has been completed in Springfield this year.

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