Commissioners, state’s attorney investigate legal action against state

Eleven weeks into the Illinois budget impasse, local communities are starting to feel the squeeze of limited finances.

State Senate Democrats have advanced a $3.8 billion spending plan to cover the mounting cost of human services.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has resisted similar efforts in the past, but Comptroller Leslie Munger says something needs to be done soon or the state could face an $8.5 billion deficit by December.

The mounting deficit has local leaders seeking legal action to find out where their tax dollars are going.

Williamson County Commissioner Brent Gentry says the state of Illinois has withheld $1.1 million from his county since July 1.

"The state has serious issues,” said Gentry. “The three that I’m pointing my finger at are Gov. Rauner, Mike Madigan, and John Cullerton. They are like three kids in the sandbox that can’t get along playing together.”

Every time you fill up your car with gas, buy groceries, or play the lottery, you’re paying taxes. According to Gentry, no matter how much money the state takes in, it refuses to pay a single dollar back to the local counties.

"How do you even begin to start a budget process when you don’t even know what your revenues are going to be coming in?" Gentry asked.

Unable to plan for the future, the county has asked Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanoti to investigate avenues of suing the state.

"We’re in uncharted waters, to put it mildly,” said Zanoti.  “This is a very unprecedented, novel approach to things and not something we can take lightly."

By showing damages caused by the state, such as un-patched roads or the inability to buy a new squad car, Zanoti says there may be grounds for legal action.

Zanoti says he plans to reach out to St. Clair County, which is also investigating a lawsuit against the state to see if they are interested in working together.

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