Illinois lawmaker files legislation allowing delay of legislator pay after court ruling says politicians must be paid
State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, filed legislation March 23 that would give the Illinois Comptroller’s office discretion to delay payments to lawmakers if insufficient funding exists to do so. This came just hours after a Cook County judge said lawmakers must be paid.
An Illinois lawmaker filed an amendment to legislation March 23 to prioritize other state spending obligations over lawmaker pay, immediately following a ruling from a Cook County judge saying that politicians must be paid even without a state budget.
State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, filed an amendment to Senate Bill 989 to allow greater discretion for issuing salary payments to members of the General Assembly. McConchie’s amendment reads that monthly payments to lawmakers and executive branch officers may be delayed if there are insufficient funds in the state’s general revenue fund to pay all other obligations “within 90 days after a voucher requesting payment is submitted to the comptroller.”
This amendment was filed just hours after a Cook County judge ruled that state Comptroller Susana Mendoza must issue paychecks to lawmakers, even without a state budget, a reversal on a March 16 statement that the issue could be solved “by simply passing a budget.”.
Mendoza said in a statement March 23 that she would begin to issue paychecks.
Former Comptroller Leslie Munger started the recent trend of pushing lawmaker paychecks to the back of the line, which resulted in a lawsuit from a group of Democrat lawmakers. State Reps. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, Mary Flowers, Silvana Tabares, Lisa Hernandez and then state Rep. Kate Cloonen together filed the suit against Munger in December 2016, citing a 2014 law protecting legislator pay from the appropriations process. House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton pushed that 2014 law through the General Assembly in the final months of former Gov. Pat Quinn’s tenure to guarantee that lawmakers get paid whether or not a budget is in place.
McConchie’s amendment would allow leeway by giving the comptroller’s office discretion on payments.
Illinois lawmakers are the highest paid legislators in the Midwest, and some of the highest paid in the entire country. For what is considered a part-time job, members of the General Assembly earn a baseline salary of about $68,000 a year.
Illinoisans in the private sector don’t enjoy the same perks as lawmakers, with earnings mostly stagnant over the last decade. As Illinoisans struggle with the highest property taxes in the nation and an uncompetitive business climate – intensified by a broken workers’ compensation system and an unmanageably high tax burden – lawmakers would be best served to work on passing a balanced budget with real economic reforms, rather than fighting to prioritize their paychecks ahead of other state spending.