Illinois News Network
What would happen if state officials had their paychecks suspended until the state paid all of its past due bills? State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, thinks it would help the Illinois Legislature find a solution to the state's budget problems.
Meier has introduced legislation that would suspend the pay of the governor, secretary of state, treasurer, the General Assembly and other state officials until the state pays all of its past due vendor accounts.
The state is $9.4 billion behind in paying its bills and some vendors are getting paid five months late.
"The people who created this fiscal disaster should wait in line to get paid as long as the other businesses that the state of Illinois owes money to," Meier said. "Maybe that would help us find a solution to this budget problem more quickly."
The Illinois Constitution, however, mandates that if the pay of legislators and members of the executive branch are changed, those changes cannot take effect during the term in which they were elected or appointed.
Christopher Mooney, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is skeptical of the bill’s prospects.
"There is no chance in the world of this passing, so you have to wonder why he bothers wasting a piece of paper and his staff’s time," he said. "I don't know about Rep. Meier in particular, but it is very common for legislators to introduce bills that sound good to the constituency even if they aren't likely to pass."
Meier agreed that there wasn't a good chance for the bill to make it through the Legislature.
"If you were a betting man you would bet against a bill [passing] like this,” he said. “But would you want to be the person on the committee who says, 'Yes, we get paid, but everyone else doesn't'?"