Story Summary

Illinois Pension Reform

A pension deal worked out between Senate President John Cullerton and state employee unions was approved in committee, and now moves on to the full Senate.

A different pension proposal backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan recently passed the Illinois House of Representatives.

The state’s pension system is nearly $100 billion in debt.

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This story has 10 updates

Legal analyst Terry Sullivan joins WGN Midday News

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.

A judge was expected to hear state lawmakers’ lawsuit against Governor Quinn for the first time Tuesday morning.

The governor used a line-item veto last week to cancel lawmakers’ salaries until they deliver a solution to the state’s pension crisis.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Democrats like Quinn, have asked a judge to file an injunction against the veto, immediately restoring their salaries plus interest.

Legislators are supposed to get their monthly pay checks today, but that’s on hold.

Governor Quinn is holding back their salaries until they pass pension reform.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton responded with a lawsuit on Tuesday.

They say Quinn is undermining the separation of powers between their branches of government.

The lawsuit seeks to have a judge grant an injunction to have the state comptroller pay lawmakers’ salaries, with interest.

A court date has not been set.

Governor Quinn is now being sued for keeping state lawmakers from being paid, until there’s pension reform.

Thursday is payday for state lawmakers, but they won’t be getting their checks.

Earlier this month, the governor used his veto powers to eliminate a budget item that included lawmakers’ salaries, including his own.

He says the legislature will get paid when it passes pension reform.

But now democratic leaders John Cullerton and Michael Madigan want a judge to stop Quinn’s plan.

They say the governor is undermining the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

“If the governor’s line-item veto is upheld, the independence of each member of the General Assembly is forever compromised,” their

lawsuit states. “Any governor will hold a trump card over a co-equal branch of government, attempting to bend the members of the

General Assembly to his or her will with the threat of eliminating their salaries, which for some legislators is their only source of

income.. In this particular instance, Governor Quinn has stated that his dispute with the General Assembly is over the lack of pension

reform legislation. Next time it may be gun control, abortion rights or tax policy.”

No republicans are named in Cullerton and Madigan’s lawsuit.

Governor Quinn says he’s ready to defend taxpayers in the courts.

“If legislators had put forth the same effort to draw up a pension reform agreement that they did in crafting this lawsuit, pension

reform could have been done by now,” Quinn said in a statement. “Legislators should not be rewarded for an endless cycle of

promises, excuses, delay and inertia on the pension problem.”

Lawmakers announced a lawsuit against Gov. Pat Quinn Tuesday over his action to suspend their pay.

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and Senate President John J. Cullerton filed  the suit and called the suspension of pay “unconstitutional.”

Earlier this month, one day after Quinn’s limits on concealed carry were shot down by lawmakers, Quinn announced he would suspend pay for himself and for state lawmakers until the state’s pension crisis is resolved.

Starting August 1, paychecks will be withheld from Illinois lawmakers.

In the suit, Madigan and Cullerton argue the governor’s move violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch. They want the court to overturn Quinn’s move and are asking a Cook County judge for an injunction ordering the state comptroller to pay salaries. The first check lawmakers are scheduled to miss will be issued on Thursday.

Madigan and Cullerton sent a letter to members of the General Assembly saying, in part. “For us to ignore the Governor’s actions, or override the veto, would severely and irrevocably compromise the independence of the legislature and set a very dangerous precedent … The purpose of this lawsuit is to protect the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers. It is our hope that the court will remedy this constitutional.”

Quinn issued a statement this after saying, in part,  “Today’s lawsuit filed by two members of the Illinois General Assembly is just plain wrong.  If legislators had put forth the same effort to draw up a pension reform agreement that they did in crafting this lawsuit, pension reform could have been done by now. … I will defend the interest of Illinois taxpayers in the courts. Nobody should be paid until the pension reform job gets done for taxpayers.”

-Chicago Tribune Contributed to this report

Starting August 1, paychecks will be withheld from Illinois lawmakers.

Governor Pat Quinn vetoed their salaries after lawmakers failed to act on pension reform.

A court could still order the paychecks to be issued or lawmakers could vote to override Quinn’s veto.

The governor is voluntarily giving up his salary until the  pension reform crisis is solved.

Illinois’ debt problem has led credit agencies to downgrade the state’s credit rating several times,  making it more expensive for the state to borrow money.

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. “

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. “

 

 

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced Wednesday that he is suspending pay for legislators until comprehensive public pension reform is passed.

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