IL’s battle over lawmaker pay to drag on another month
August 7, 2013, By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog,CHICAGO — Illinois lawmakers better have some money in the bank.
Gov. Pat Quinn last month used his veto power to strip legislative salaries from the state budget.
Quinn said lawmakers were not acting fast enough to fix Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension systems.
“I think the taxpayers of Illinois know full well what the principle is, you don’t get paid if you don’t do your job,” Quinn told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.
It’s the latest in the on-going fight over pension reform and the balance of political power in Illinois, which unfolded at a brief hearing in Chicago on Tuesday.
Cook County Judge Neil Cohen set a Sept. 18 hearing for arguments in the case.
“I think the public appreciates the politics of (Quinn’s order),” Sen. Heather Steans told Illinois Watchdog on Tuesday.
Steans, a Chicago Democrat like Quinn, said the governor is clearly playing politics.
“That’s why (legislative leaders) are filing the lawsuit,” Steans said.
In the lawsuit, Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton say Quinn is abusing his power as governor by stripping legislative salaries from the budget.
Both of the top legislators say Quinn could be setting a dangerous precedent of intimidation and coercion.
Despite missing their Aug. 1 — and likely Sept. 1 paychecks — lawmakers are no closer to a vote on the pension reform package Quinn has demanded since the Illinois General Assembly left the Capitol in June.
Steans, however, did hold out some hope for a vote sooner rather than later.
“I have been told the pension committee is looking at the end of August (for a vote),” Steans said.
Contact Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.