CHICAGO — An appellate court has ruled against social service providers suing Illinois over the lack of payment during the budget impasse.

The Pay Now Illinois coalition sued last year in Cook County to force the state to honor contracts. However, a Cook County judge dismissed the case, saying it belonged in a higher court. The Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the case Thursday, directing providers to the Court of Claims for relief.

Coalition spokeswoman Andrea Durbin says she’s “terribly disappointed.”

The coalition alleges a “breakdown of constitutional government” and says social service providers are being held hostage in the fight between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and majority Democrats.

The impasse could enter a third year if there’s no deal by July 1.

A similar lawsuit is pending in St. Clair County.