Madigan’s unbalanced budget doesn’t appropriate pay for state workers

Mailee Smith

Senior Director of Labor Policy and Staff Attorney

Mailee Smith
May 27, 2016

Madigan’s unbalanced budget doesn’t appropriate pay for state workers

If AFSCME workers cannot be paid in the absence of a budget appropriation, pressure will be turned up on the governor to agree to the union’s unreasonable demands.

Not only does Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s rush-job budget overspend by $7 billion, but it also does not even include appropriations to pay state workers.

Because Illinois has gone 11 months without a balanced budget, these workers are only being paid because a St. Clair County judge has ordered the state to do so. Madigan’s budget relies on that court order continuing – which may not be the case much longer.

As state Rep. Ed Sullivan, R-Mundelein, explained to state Democrats during the short-lived debate on Madigan’s budget, “You’re in essence voting to stop payment to employees, because in your bill, there’s no pay for employees. There’s no appropriation.”

Sullivan is right. According to a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, the state cannot issue back pay to certain state workers because, the court reasoned, that pay was not appropriated by the General Assembly.

This could mean that if the state does not appropriate funds for current worker pay, the state will not be able to pay them, either. Currently, state workers are being paid by court order. In the wake of the state Supreme Court’s decision on back pay, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is expected to now argue that the state must cease paying state workers.

The collision course is clear: If the court rules that the state cannot pay employees without specific appropriations from the General Assembly, and the General Assembly has made no appropriations, the state cannot pay state workers.

Illinois’ inability to pay state workers would have a significant impact on the governor’s contract negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Since July 2015, the state has been paying AFSCME workers under the terms of the expired contract. The state’s negotiations with AFSCME will implode if those workers are no longer getting paid, with further pressure placed on the governor to agree to the union’s unreasonable demands.

In the meantime, AFSCME appears to be stalling impasse proceedings before the Illinois Labor Relations Board, until a point when Lisa Madigan effectuates a stoppage of worker pay. The impasse proceedings were originally scheduled for 18 days from April 25 through May 26. While the state presented and rested its case within the first five days of the proceedings, AFSCME has utilized the remaining 13 hearing days – and is far from resting its case. AFSCME Deputy Director Mike Newman’s testimony has been particularly slow, causing the presiding administrative law judge to encourage Newman and AFSCME attorneys to try to move things along, noting at one point that “there is a tinge of belaboring of points that does cause me some concern.”

But AFSCME’s stall tactics appear to be working. The proceedings have been extended and may not end until sometime in June. Ultimately, these tactics are likely part of Mike Madigan’s overall power play to hold the state hostage until he – and AFSCME – gets what he wants.

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