Comptroller Topinka Re-affirms State Legislators Will Not be Paid

Office reviewed legality of Governor's order to withhold legislators' pay until a pension reform bill is passed.
CHICAGO -- Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says without an appropriation, she cannot pay lawmakers, meaning Governor Pat Quinn's order to deny legislators their paychecks until pension reform is passed will stick for now.

"After the Governor used his Amendatory Veto to remove the budget line items for lawmaker salaries, I asked my staff to conduct a legal review and determine the appropriate course of action," Topinka said at a news conference in Chicago.  "That review included discussions with the Governor's legal staff, Legislative legal staffs and the Attorney General's Office. While there is conflicting opinion on this matter, I believe the case of AFSCME vs. Netsch provides the most pertinent guidance. In that case, the court ruled that the Comptroller could not pay state employees without an appropriation."

Quinn signed the Amendatory Veto the day after a July 9th special session in which legislators said they needed more time to craft a compromise on pension reform.  A clearly frustrated Governor said at the time that if lawmakers cannot do their job on the most pressing issue facing the state, they should not be paid.  The Governor included himself, which means he will also not be paid until the issue is resolved.

Topinka immediately issued her own statement saying she would investigate if the move ran afoul of the Illinois Constitution, including consulting with Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Topinka says, "... at this point in time, the Attorney General has advised that these payments cannot be made without an appropriation or court order.   It is my deep hope that this matter is resolved expeditiously either by legislative action or court intervention. Given the serious precedent that is being created, I look forward to receiving additional guidance from the judicial branch."

She then added, "By way of Editorial comment, let me be clear: this is no way to run government. Threats, blackmail and inertia may be good theater, but it makes us look ridiculous and takes away from our ability to get things done. It is time for leaders to lead."

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