Metro-East News

Madigan asks state Supreme Court to reverse St. Clair judge on state worker pay

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking the state Supreme Court to reverse a St. Clair County judge’s order that requires Illinois to pay state employees in the absence of a budget.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien last month denied a request by Madigan to stop state workers’ paychecks unless lawmakers resolve the state’s nearly two-year budget impasse.

Madigan’s appeal is the latest move in a chess match between her and Gov. Bruce Rauner. Madigan, a Democrat, argues that stopping pay is constitutional and would hasten a budget agreement between the Republican governor and the Democrat-controlled legislature. Rauner argues that Madigan wants to create a “crisis” that would shut down the government.

LeChien has ruled that state workers have to be paid even though there is no budget in place.

“There is no legal basis for the St. Clair County order, and it has allowed the governor and the legislature to continue to avoid the difficult decisions required of them to enact a budget,” Madigan said in a prepared statement. “As a result, serious and irreparable damage has been done to the state and its universities, students, social service providers, nonprofit organizations and companies that provide goods and services to the state. Illinois now has no spending plan in place, and no transparent process for the billions of dollars that are being spent through the court’s order.”

There is no legal basis for the St. Clair County order, and it has allowed the governor and the legislature to continue to avoid the difficult decisions required of them to enact a budget.

Lisa Madigan, Illinois attorney general

Rauner also issued a statement: “Today’s extraordinary action by the attorney general ... makes clear there is a coordinated effort on the part of Democrat insiders in Springfield to force a government shutdown.”

Madigan said she is “asking the Illinois Supreme Court to review this case immediately and require the governor and the legislature to follow the law and fulfill their constitutional duties to enact a budget.​​”

Madigan is the daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Today’s extraordinary action by the attorney general ... makes clear there is a coordinated effort on the part of Democrat insiders in Springfield to force a government shutdown.

Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Republican Party spokesman Steven Yaffe issued a statement saying the appeal “is an obvious and disturbing effort to force a government shutdown and cause a statewide crisis. Lisa Madigan’s shameless motion to block state employee pay is intended to protect the broken system the Madigans control from those who believe it’s time for change.”

Another LeChien ruling

In a related development, LeChien ruled that the Illinois state comptroller may direct which accounts should be used to pay state employees.

Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza reported late Tuesday that LeChien ruled in her favor and against Rauner. She may decide how to pay 600 employees.

Rauner wanted the Department of Central Management Services workers paid from general revenue. But there’s no appropriation for that fund because of the two-year budget stalemate.

Mendoza indicated they should be paid from the agency’s garage and maintenance funds. Mendoza says those funds have $93 million available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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