Hearing held in legislature paycheck lawsuit

The first hearing in a lawsuit over Illinois lawmakers’ paychecks was held this morning at the Daley Center.  No decisions were made today and the only agreement was on a schedule to present the case.

The only real surprise came when Governor Pat Quinn walked into court.  As he walked past the cameras Quinn was asked, “How are you?” and he responded, “We’re ready for combat.”

In court, Quinn did not speak or participated in the process.  He only observed.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton are suing the Governor and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to get the pay of lawmakers restored.  Qunin used his line item veto power to cut off legislators’ pay until they come up with comprehensive pension reform to address the state’s pension crisis.  Lawmakers missed their first paycheck last week.

Madigan and Cullerton argue that the move violates the separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.  They also claim it is un-constitutional because legislative salaries cannot be changed midterm.

But Quinn says there is another way to solve this without court action.

“Under the constitution the legislature tomorrow could go down to Springfield and have a vote on whether or not to override the veto of their pay,” Quinn told reporters.  “They failed to act.  They haven’t done a thing about that because they know the people are on our side.”

WGN reached out to both House Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton for a response.  Cullerton has yet to respond, but Madigan’s office replied:  “That would make the legislature participate in Gov. Quinn’s folly.  (We’re not going to do that.)”

Oral arguments in the case are set for September 18, after which the judge will issue his decision.  But no timetable has been set for that.

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