Illinois Employee Wages Blocked in Budget Standoff

     CHICAGO (CN) – Tens of thousands of Illinois state employees cannot get paid their full paychecks until lawmakers approve a 2016 budget, a judge ruled.
     With the 2016 fiscal year having begun on July 1, little headway has been made since Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed most of the Democratic Legislature’s budget plan on June 25.
     Despite acknowledging that their plan is more than $3 billion short on revenue, the Democrats, led by House Speaker Michael Madigan, refuse to make the drastic social-service cuts Rauner has demanded.
     Rauner signed only portions of the bill, to let education funding continue.
     With the famously anti-union governor pushing to keep paying public employees while the budget battle rages, Rauner fostered an unusual alliance with unions representing state employees.
     Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked a court last week to rule either a) that the comptroller may process payroll obligations to meet federal minimum wage requirements; or b) that state employees cannot be paid at all until a budget is passed.
     Cook County Judge Diane Larsen ruled Tuesday that the state may only pay its employees the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour until the state has a budget in place.
     But Rauner-appointed Comptroller Leslie Munger said processing the partial paychecks would be a “logistical impossibility.”
     Attorney General Madigan is the daughter of House Speaker Madigan.
     The 82,104 workers Illinois employs earn $4.8 billion a year, the State Journal-Register reported.
     State lawmakers hope to reach an agreement on a one-month emergency-services budget that will pay some, but not all, state workers. It is unclear, however, whether Rauner will sign such a bill, even if it passes.
     Since he has 60 days to sign the bill, Rauner could effectively kill the bill even if it is passed by a veto-proof majority of the Legislature.
     Judge Larsen granted Madigan’s request to allow payments for the operations of the judicial branch, and for a variety of state obligations related to federal programs.

%d bloggers like this: