State Budget Woes Leave Illinois Lottery Winners Waiting for Cash

The state of Illinois is embroiled in a fierce budget battle and big lottery winners are starting to feel the hit in the Land of Lincoln. Governor Bruce Rauner is battling the legislature over his proposals for a more business-friendly budget and has made it clear that his approval of any scheme will rely on a successful push towards his own political goals, which include cutting back the collective bargaining abilities of public-sector employees.

State Budget Woes Leave Illinois Lottery Winners Waiting for Cash

When lawmakers in Springfield couldn’t find enough votes to challenge Rauner’s veto, the fiscal year started without a budget. Several programmes helping the elderly, the poor and other marginalised groups now face lengthy periods without funding, while those who have hit the lottery in the state in the last two months won’t be getting a cheque anytime soon.

There have been 29 big prize winners in Illinois since the first of July, including Michelle Baymon of Hanover Park, who won $15 million on a scratchcard in early August. Like other big winners, she has had her moment in the press and celebrated her good fortune, but she don’t have the bank account statements to back it up.

One winner, Danny Chasteen from Oglesby, is still waiting for his $250,000 prize which he won on a scratchcard in late July. He had been told by lottery officials that he would have to wait between four and six weeks for the money, but was then informed that the state’s budget woes would delay the payout. Speaking to the Daily Beast, Chasteen and his girlfriend Susan Rick expressed their frustration at the situation.

“They assured us that they have the money in the bank and that wasn’t a problem. But they couldn’t release the funds until the Illinois budget situation was settled. The first thing that came to my head was ‘They can’t do that.’ What does the Illinois Lottery have to do with the Illinois budget?”

“You know what’s funny?” said Rick in a separate interview with the Chicago Tribune. “If we owed the state money, they’d come take it and they don’t care whether we have a roof over our head.”

Illinois Lottery spokesman Stephen Rossi explained in a statement that “due to the ongoing budget situation in Springfield, some lottery winner payments have been delayed. All winners will be paid in full as soon as the lottery and the Illinois comptroller have the authority to do so.”

Prizes worth $600 or less can still be claimed from authorised retailers across the state, with prizes worth between $601 and $25,000 able to be paid out at lottery claim centres, but big ticket winners will have to accept an IOU for now.

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Article Last Modified: Monday, 26 October 2015 09:58:46+01:00
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