Madigan, Cullerton file lawsuit over halted pay

July 30, 2013 8:35:34 PM PDT
Six thousand dollars a month is what the average state lawmaker stands to lose starting Thursday because Governor Pat Quinn cut off paycheck funding as long as the pension crisis remains unresolved.

But leaders of the House and Senate are fighting back, slapping Quinn with a lawsuit on Tuesday.

Mike Madigan and John Cullerton call the governor's move purely political and unconstitutional. They also say their lawsuit is not about the money.

While the stalemate at the statehouse continues, Governor Quinn's latest attempt to get lawmakers to move on pension reform is headed to a Cook County courthouse.

But ABC7 has obtained video that appears to show one of the men suing the governor may agree with him.

"Now it's time for legislators to understand they'll have to pay until they act," said Gov. Quinn, on July 10.

The lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional for the Governor to veto legislators' pay because he doesn't like something they've done-- or in this case-- haven't done.

But in a February meeting with the State Journal-Register, Cullerton appears to interpret the law differently.

"There's a provision in the constitution - as it should be - that says judges compensation shall not be diminished. The Legislature has a separate provision in the constitution that says our salaries cannot be changed - I'm sure the framers of the constitution meant by that they can't be raised," said Sen. John Cullerton.

In letter to legislators, Madigan and Cullerton insist the issue about independence not paychecks.

"In this case, the Governor is seeking changes to the pension system, but next time it could be tax policy, gun control, or education reform. The possibilities are endless." they wrote.

Unless a judge intervenes, monthly paychecks won't go out Thursday, a hit of at least $5,653 for each lawmaker.

"Until the job is done I don't think legislators would be paid, I'm not taking a paycheck," said Gov. Quinn.

"When you get into the weeds about the law and constitution you lose people. Voters are going to remember that they went into court to sue to get their money when they weren't getting anything done in Springfield," said Laura Washington, ABC7 political analyst.

The governor used his line item veto power to block lawmaker pay, but the leaders' lawsuit claims he didn't delete all of the necessary lines by crossing out certain parts, but not the group to be paid or the "total amount."

A spokesman for Quinn insists the lines he vetoed are enough stop the paychecks.


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