Governor Pat Quinn halts Illinois lawmakers' pay

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn Says Lawmakers Won’t Get Paid Until Pensions Are Fixed [Video]

Governor Pat Quinn moved to halt Illinois lawmakers’ pay Wednesday because they failed to come up with a solution to the state’s pension crisis.

Accelerating an increasingly bitter feud with the General Assembly, Governor Pat Quinn suspended the pay of state lawmakers Wednesday, saying he believed the best way for legislators to reach a long-sought fix to Illinois’ massive public worker pension debt was to “hit them in the wallet,” according to The Chicago Tribune.

“Quinn used his veto powers to zero-out the $13.8 million budget for legislative salaries and leadership stipends, effectively eliminating the state’s ability to send lawmakers their Aug. 1 paychecks.”

Governor Pat Quinn has said that taxpayers have had to pay for the legislature’s failure to resolve an unfunded pension liability that has grown to more than $100 billion through higher borrowing costs, lower credit ratings and money squeezed from social services.

Quinn stated:

“This is an emergency. This is a crisis. This requires full attention of those who are elected to the General Assembly, take an oath of office, to do the right thing for the public. For too long, we’ve had legislative inertia, delay and excuses on this paramount issue to the people of Illinois.”

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said in a statement:

“While I understand and appreciate the Governor’s focus on pension reform, real questions have been raised about the legality of his action. Specifically, Section 11 of our State Constitution states that ‘changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been elected.”

There seem to be many mixed feelings on Governor Pat Quinn’s actions; ABC News Chicago reported the following:

“I think it’s a bad precedent to get into, to start punishing any government employee with their paychecks,” Senator Kirk Dillard, (R) Hinsdale, said.

“That’s a childish game of tit for tat, particularly when you know the deadline you set was impractical,” Senator Kwame Raoul, (D) Chicago, said.

“At a time when we need leadership from the governor, we get another political stunt,” Senator Matt Murphy, (R) Palatine, said.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan released a statement Wednesday, “The Governor’s decision follows my efforts and I understand his frustration. I am hopeful his strategy works.”

The General Assembly can choose return to Springfield at any time to override the governor’s veto to restore their paychecks.

Although, Governor Quinn believes that if they do choose to override his veto it “would be a political disaster for lawmakers to call themselves back to refund their pay, but not deal with the debt, which is estimated to grow at $5 million a day,” according to ABC News Chicago.

And for those who think that this is simply a political stunt, Quinn has said that he will not accept his salary until the General Assembly sends him a comprehensive pension reform solution.

What do you think of Governor Pat Quinn’s move to halt Illinois lawmakers’ pay because they failed to come up with a solution to the state’s pension crisis? Was it a simple political stunt, or do you believe it to be the proper action to get business taken care of?

[Image by Chris Eaves via Wikimedia]

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