A new comptroller takes office this week. Susana Mendoza will be following the footsteps of some of her predecessors by blocking lawmakers’ pay.
This month, a half dozen Democratic lawmakers filed a lawsuit against former Comptroller Leslie Munger demanding they be paid, but that lawsuit will now be in the hands of Mendoza.
“Because, in these times of fiscal crisis, there must be times of shared sacrifices and we must prioritize the most vulnerable first,” she says.
Governor Bruce Rauner says no lawmaker deserves to be paid until there’s a spending plan in place.
“I’m asking that the legislators drop this lawsuit. This lawsuit should not be pursued. I think it’s an insult to taxpayers of Illinois,” Rauner says.
Mendoza agrees with Rauner. Before paychecks are handed out, lawmakers need a solution to the state’s budget crisis. However, Mendoza says Rauner’s approach on reaching a balanced budget by demanding reforms is not the right direction to go.
“Things like term limits, they can stand on their own because those things, why should that be tied to the budget and people are being crippled across the state?”
Mendoza says Rauner’s turnaround agenda items should be introduced to the General Assembly independently, not tying them to a budget.
“[That] would advocate that people get to work on crafting a budget, passing a balanced budget, determining what revenues are needed and where we’re going to be cutting,” Mendoza says.
Mendoza was sworn in using the late Judy Baar Topinka’s family bible. Mendoza says Topinka was a close friend and she remains hopeful both sides of the aisle can come together to find a solution.
“Judy was a Republican and I was a Democrat and that never, ever mattered to our friendship and it never mattered to her as she prioritized the people and institutions,” says Mendoza.
More than $10.4 billion of bills remain unpaid in the comptroller’s office.
Medoza says she will not be cashing her paycheck either until a budget solution is achieved. She currently makes more than $135,000 a year.