There ought to be a law to make lawmakers earn their pay

September 27, 2013 

How's this for fairness? A Cook County judge has ruled that it's unconstitutional for Gov. Pat Quinn to withhold paychecks from do-nothing lawmakers. The lawmakers don't have to go to the end of the line of vendors awaiting checks for the services they provided to the state government. The judge ordered that lawmakers be paid immediately, and he refused to issue a stay while Quinn appeals the decision.

Too bad there's nothing in the state Constitution that requires lawmakers to do their job to collect a paycheck. Quinn wants to withhold their checks until they address the state's $100 billion pension shortfall. Seriously, why should they get paid until then?

The judge also ordered that the lawmakers receive an unspecified amount of interest. Great, how much is that going to cost the taxpayers? That's in addition to the $5 million a day added to the pension debt without reform.

Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka took the ruling as an opportunity to kick Quinn, a Democrat: "That's, again, not the way you want to run a state." Well, lawmakers ignoring the No. 1 issue facing Illinois isn't the way to conduct business, either.

Quinn said he will not accept his paycheck until the state's pensions are fixed. In a just universe, lawmakers would do the same. But we suspect most, if not all, of them will take the money and not miss a wink of sleep. After all, they haven't earned their pay for a long time. They're not going to start feeling bad about it now.

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