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Illinois gives lottery winners IOUs

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 10/15/2015 Aamer Madhani

CHICAGO— The cash-strapped state of Illinois announced Wednesday they’ll be handing out IOUs for the time-being to any state lottery winner who wins more than $600.

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The IOUs are one of the many side effects of the stalemate over a new a budget between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s Democratic lawmakers who control the Illinois General Assembly.

“Payment delays will occur because there currently is no legal authority for the Illinois Comptroller or the Illinois Lottery to issue checks,” the Illinois Lottery said in a statement. “Please note that the funding to pay winners exists, but the legal authority to issue checks does not.”

The lottery said the payments will be made once a state budget is passed.

The lottery has been delaying payments to big winners since the current fiscal year started on July 1. Initially, only winners who were set to get $25,000 or more were being receiving IOUs.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Lottery lowered the threshold to $600.

Last month, two winners, who won $50,000 and $250,000 prizes in July but had yet to be paid, launched a class-action suit against the Illinois Lottery.

The lawsuit estimated the lottery had failed to pay out more than $288 million in prizes since the last state budget expired on June 30.

One of the lead plaintiffs in the suit questioned how the Illinois Lottery can continue to operate when they are failing to make payouts to winners.

“How the heck can they do this, and they're still selling tickets?" said Homer Glen resident Rhonda Rasche, 48, according to the Chicago Tribune. "If I was the one selling raffle tickets and I didn't pay, I would be sued or in jail or both."

Meanwhile, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said Wednesday a $560 million payment due to Illinois’ pension system will also be delayed.She said that retirees will still receive benefit checks as scheduled. But the impasse has led to an immediate cash shortage, altering the way her office will dole out payments to the system.

"This decision came down to choosing the least of a number of bad options and it saddens me that we've reached this point. But the fact is that our state simply does not have the revenue to meet its obligations," Munger said

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