Quinn on suspending lawmakers pay: ‘I’m doing my job’

A day after Governor Quinn’s limits on concealed carry were shot down, he’s firing back at lawmakers, docking their pay until they pass pension reform.

Using his line-item veto power, Gov Quinn announced Wednesday that he is suspending pay for himself and for state lawmakers until the state’s crippling pension crisis is resolved.

State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says her office is checking if this is legal, but Quinn says the Illinois Constitution is “crystal clear.”

“The governor has the authority, after the legislature passes a budget bill.. I can reduce that appropriation,” said Quinn on the WGN Morning News.  “That’s what I did.. If (lawmakers) pass pension reform, then with my blessing, they can get their pay.  I’ve suspended my own pay.  I think all of us need to work together to get this job done.”

The governor’s salary in 2012 was a little over $177,000.  The average salary for state lawmakers is about $68,000.  With the state’s unfunded pension debt growing by a staggering $17 million dollars a day, the governor says he can’t approve paychecks for those who aren’t doing their job.

State lawmakers, including many Democrats, say this move will not get the job done any faster and that Quinn should take a more active role.

“I’m the governor.  I sign the bill into law.  They’re the legislators,” said Quinn.  “They have to do their job, bridge the differences between themselves, in order to bring a bill before me to sign into law.”

State senator Kwame Raoul chairs the pension reform committee and said, “That’s what it’s about for him, getting the attention, there’s an election next year.  It’s less to do with solving the pension. “

Many republicans agree including State Senator Matt Murphy.

“It’s kind of interesting that you have a Democratic governor and Democratic super majorities in both chambers and you need political stunts like this to solve problems,” he said.  “The dysfunction is paralyzing.”

“I’ve been in the trenches since day one,” said Quinn.  “I’ve done everything imaginable to get the legislature to do their job..  The taxpayers are losing millions of dollars everyday because of the failure of the legislature to put a bill on my desk, and I think this is the necessary measure to get their attention.”

House Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement today supporting the governor’s move saying “The governor’s decision follows my efforts and I understand his frustration.  I am hopeful his strategy works. “

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