- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House adopted a stop-gap spending plan Thursday that would guarantee state employee paychecks for July, but Gov. Bruce Rauner quickly criticized it, as Illinois’ budget muddle got even messier when a judge’s ruling on worker pay contradicted an earlier decision by a different court.

As the Democratic-controlled House OK’d a one-month budget after a two-hour debate peppered with name-calling and recrimination, a southwestern Illinois judge decreed that state workers should get their full paychecks even without a formal budget. That contradicted a Cook County court ruling earlier in the week that no budget means no pay.

The state is 10 days into a new fiscal year without authority to pay bills. Republican Rauner insists on pro-business reforms to spur economic investment before dealing with Democrats on a budget that has a deficit of up to $4 billion.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien sided with 13 public employee unions in declaring Comptroller Leslie Munger must continue paying state workers. The ruling came days after a Cook County judge said only some workers covered by federal minimum wage laws can be paid.

Munger - a Republican whose office filed fresh papers objecting to the Cook County decision Thursday - said the St. Clair ruling authorizes payroll-processing for all state employees.

“Paying state employees for their work is the right and legal thing to do,” she said in a statement.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office planned to appeal the St. Clair order. The Democrat said continued legal wrangling makes it “all the more imperative that the governor and the Legislature do their jobs and enact a budget.”

The short-term budget plan, approved on a 71-19 vote, would provide $2.3 billion to keep state machinery operating for a month while Democrats and Rauner continue trying to reach an agreement for the full year. GOP members objected to Democratic taunts that they were “enablers” and “minions” doing the governor’s bidding.

Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, added the paycheck provision for all state employees. The previous version covered only emergency services. Currie was responding to the Cook County ruling and pressure from Republicans who introduced legislation to guarantee full-year salaries for all employees. Democrats buried that in a parliamentary move.

Rauner says a temporary budget puts the state in the hole one month at a time

“Voting to spend money the state doesn’t have is the cause of Illinois’ financial crisis,” spokesman Lance Trover said.

Rep. Steven Andersson, a Geneva Republican, said the interim proposal didn’t push negotiations ahead and would actually hurt workers.

“We are being cruel,” Andersson said. “We’re being cruel to them because what we’re saying is there’s hope and the reality is, we’re just kicking the can for 30 days.”

The plan faces other challenges. The Senate, returning to Springfield next week, must concur on the paycheck provision. And it expires Aug. 1, so if it reaches the Republican governor’s desk, “He’d better hurry,” Currie said.

Rauner’s office did not respond to an assertion by House Speaker Michael Madigan, a target of Rauner budget bile, that the governor’s aides have failed to make their case for his agenda to lawmakers.

The Chicago Democrat produced a list of seven dates beginning June 4 on which Rauner’s office declined committee-hearing invitations - an example, he said, of how the governor is not being “reasonable” or acting in “moderation.”

“It’s not reasonable for an executive department anywhere in America to decline to participate in legislative hearings,” Madigan said. “We’re going to continue to provide an opportunity to the Rauner administration to participate in our three-part government here in Illinois.”

___

Tareen reported from Chicago. AP writer Alan Scher Zagier contributed from Belleville.

___

The bills are SB4020 and HB4245.

Online: https://www.ilga.gov

___

Contact Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide