Illinois State Legislators Sue to Get Paid Their Salaries

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Six Illinois State Legislators have filed a lawsuit in Cook Co. Court demanding they be paid their salaries.

State Reps. Emanuel Chris Welch, Kate Cloonen, Mary Flowers, Sonya Harper, Lisa Hernandez and Silvana Tabares, all Chicago area Democrats, released a statement Friday regarding their lawsuit to restore legislators’ pay.

“The decision by multimillionaire Comptroller Leslie Munger and billionaire Gov. Bruce Rauner was a thinly veiled attempt to force their political opponents into taking positions in support of the governor’s positions and against the beliefs of their constituents,” Welch said. “Many lawmakers don’t have the multimillion dollar side incomes the governor and comptroller enjoy.”

The lawmakers argue Rauner and Munger are conspiring to put financial pressure on lawmakers to pass a budget deal which includes Republican-proposed reforms.  “The 177 members of the General Assembly are elected to serve the people of our districts, but the comptroller’s and the governor’s actions show they believe we are elected to serve them, and that they can use illegal means to force us to bow to their extreme agenda,” Taberas said in the statement.

Munger has said in the past that the state is billions in the red due to budget issues and because of that Illinois is paying vendors many months late, and that lawmakers’ checks will be delayed as well.  But while the statement targets Munger, it makes no mention of incoming Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat who also ran and won on a platform of ‘no budget, no pay’ for legislators.

Late Friday afternoon, Munger held a news conference and issued a statement which read in part,

“Late this morning, on the last day of my administration, six Democrat lawmakers filed suit to ensure they are paid before the hospitals, schools, small businesses, human service organizations and others that are waiting in line for payment from the state.

“Today, our state has more than 126,000 unpaid bills totaling more than $10.3 billion and our office is paying invoices dating back to June 17. That means vendors throughout the state are waiting six months or more for payment they have been promised. We ended the month of October with just $10 million in cash available to pay down $8 billion in bills.”

“It is now up to a new Comptroller and a new Administration to decide how to approach this lawsuit. It is my sincere hope that although Comptroller-elect Susana Mendoza has spent a decade in the General Assembly, she will live up to her campaign promise and do the right thing and vigorously defend the right of the Comptroller to fund critical services for the state, and not give preferential treatment to politicians.”

The current stop-gap budget is set to expire on December 31st, and legislators have adjourned the December ‘veto-session’ without coming to an agreement on a new one.

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