Rauner: Motion to stop state employee paychecks is 'disappointing'

Friday, January 27, 2017
Rauner criticizes motion to stop state worker's paychecks
Governor Bruce Rauner criticized a legal move that would stop paying state workers until lawmakers approve a budget plan.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Governor Bruce Rauner criticized a legal move that would stop paying state workers until lawmakers approve a budget plan.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has asked a judge to stop the paychecks for 62,000 government workers as the stalemate drags on.

If state workers don't get paid, Illinois government would shut down. There is a school of thought that a shutdown would increase public pressure on Governor Rauner and lawmakers to find the money to resolve the budget impasse sooner than later.

After a speech to business leaders Friday morning, the governor told reporters he is disappointed that Madigan had gone to court to stop state employee pay until after Illinois has a budget.

"I hope the attorney general will reconsider. This is going to hurt working families, the good hard-working employees of Illinois who deserve to be paid," Rauner said.

Madigan wants a judge to lift a 2015 order requiring state workers be paid during the now-19-month-old budget stalemate. She wrote: "With a new legislative session now underway, this is an appropriate time to ask the circuit court to reconsider this order."

Lisa Madigan is the daughter of Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan, who opposes the Republican governor's effort to attach pro-business reforms to any budget settlement that might include a tax increase.

"I hope this is not a direct attempt to cause a crisis, to force a shutdown of the government, to force another stop-gap spending plan - short-term, unbalanced, incomplete - as a step to force a tax hike without any changes to our broken system," Rauner said.

The governor walked away when asked if he thought the Madigans - daughter and father - had colluded on the court action. In an e-mail to state employees, Rauner called it an "attempt to undermine good-faith bipartisan negotiations". Speaker Madigan has not commented.

"I think no politician should play a political game with state workers," AFSCME 31 spokesman Anders Lindall said.

The 38,000 member AFSCME and other state worker unions also oppose the Madigan court filing. The issue has aligned state workers with the governor, with whom they have had a contentious relationship for the past two years.

"This is the man who will not even sit down with state workers to negotiate for more than a year. So his talk is hollow," Lindall said.

The attorney general has asked the court to give the governor and lawmakers until the end of February to come up with a budget. After then, state worker paychecks would stop.

It should be noted that law enforcement, security and corrections officers would continue to be paid if a shutdown actually happened.