Governor Pat Quinn says the constitution is crystal clear — he has the line item veto power to withhold lawmakers’ checks. He says they should not get paid until their work is done.
Governor Quinn appeared at Columbia College today to announce about $51 million in grants to colleges and universities in this area. And he spoke publicly for the first time about the lawsuit filed by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton.
Quinn got rid of almost $14 million from the budget that was set aside for legislative salaries.
Madigan and Cullerton filed a lawsuit yesterday asking a Cook County judge to grant an injunction forcing Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue checks. The first checks that lawmakers are slated to miss would be cut tomorrow.
Madigan and Cullerton say Quinn’s move undermines the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches. But Quinn says everything is at stake.
“Their job is to put a bill on my desk that resolves this $100 billion pension liability,” the Governor told reporters today. “This has to be done for the good of the people. And until it’s done I don’t think anyone should be paid, and I’m not taking a paycheck myself.”
He added, “The idea of focusing on a lawsuit about their pay, rather than focusing on pension reform that’s an emergency — I think the legislature’s on the wrong track.”
Base pay for lawmakers is around $68,000 a year. Some are better equipped than others to miss a check tomorrow, as they have outside jobs. The Governor does not.