Illinois comptroller issues self, lawmakers paychecks despite appeal of circuit court’s ruling
Rank-and-file lawmakers have received paychecks of more than $50,800.
Illinois lawmakers will continue to get their paychecks on time despite an appeal of last month’s ruling that they be paid before vendors or social services that are owed almost $13 billion.
On March 23, a Cook County Circuit Court judge sided with several Democratic lawmakers, saying despite no budget and a massive backlog of bills, lawmakers should be paid before vendors and social services.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza started issuing millions of dollars worth of backpay in the following days.
On March 28, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed an appeal. That didn’t stop the paychecks. Records obtained by Illinois News Network through a Freedom of Information Act request show payments were issued as recently as March 31, days after the appeal.
Rank-and-file lawmakers have received paychecks of more than $50,800 in the couple weeks since the ruling. The amount paid for per diem and travel varies per member, with some getting as much as an additional $7,745. Ranking members also get some extra pay, as do members holding various committee leadership positions.
The four legislative leaders, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, each have received $71,484 since the judge’s ruling. This pay comes despite the four leaders having failed to pass a full year’s balanced budget in nearly two years.
In a statement in response to why there wasn’t an injunction filed to delay pay pending an appeal, Mendoza’s deputy director of communications, Jamey Dunn, said the pay is “in compliance with the judge’s order.”
Mendoza, who took office just this past December, has received nearly $44,000.
When also asked why no injunction, Madigan’s Communications Director, Maura Possley, said, “At this point, I would just say that we are focused on an appeal.”
Madigan has been paid more than $117,400 since the court’s ruling.
Former comptroller Leslie Munger, who implemented the no budget/no pay policy, now acts as deputy governor. She criticized Mendoza, saying an injunction to delay pay should have been filed immediately after the circuit court ruling.
Munger has received more than $58,000 in back pay since the judge’s ruling.
Altogether, lawmakers and constitutional officers have received nearly $12 million, including back pay, in 2017 alone, the bulk of that being paid out since the circuit court judge’s ruling.
Some have questioned whether the windfall back pay will increase the annual pensions of any lawmakers considering retirement in the next couple of years, since pensions are based on the highest annual salaries of state employees in their several years on the job. A senior public service administrator for the State Retirement Systems of Illinois said even if lawmakers were to receive several months of pay in one month, their pension would be based of the annualized salary rate set by statute and the windfall would not artificially spike pensions.