Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) issued a line item veto of House Bill 214 today, suspending lawmakers’ pay in Springfield, for failing to pass pension reform.
Quinn has recently come under fire from top Illinois Democrats, including his 2014 challenger Bill Daley, for failing thus far to get pension reform passed.
Illinois taxpayers face a $100 billion unfunded-pension liability, costing them $130 million extra in interest payments last month, due to the state’s lowered credit ratings.
“In this budget, there should be no paychecks for legislators until they get the job done on pension reform,” Quinn said. “Pension reform is the most critical job for all of us in public office. I cannot in good conscience approve legislation that provides paychecks to legislators who are not doing their job for the taxpayers.”
“Every day there’s a new excuse,” he said.
“Regular workers don’t go to their bosses and ask to get paid before getting the big job done,” Quinn said.
“You get paid after you get the big job done,” he said.
In a recent press conference, top Republican lawmakers speculated that Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D), and Senate Leader John Cullerton (D) are conspiring against Quinn in order to weaken him, and pave the way for Madigan’s daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, to run for governor.
Cullerton said in a statement, “The governor’s actions today are as unproductive as yesterday’s arbitrary deadline. Responsible leaders know that unworkable demands will only delay progress… Our efforts on pensions will continue until we’ve reached our goal. In the meantime, the work of the pensions conference committee shouldn’t be undermined or deterred by today’s or future political grandstanding.”
Bill Daley was quick to attack Quinn as well, stating, “It is obvious to everyone by now that this governor is long on press conferences and short on results…This media sideshow doesn’t get things done, in fact it stands in the way.”
Republican State Senator Matt Murphy also fired back at Quinn. “It’s somewhat irrational to say that the executive branch is going to tell a co-equal branch they’re not going to get paid,” Murphy said, questioning whether the comptroller had the authority to take such an action. “It’s a stunt. He knows it’s a stunt.”
The Sun-Times reported that a legislator’s base pay is $67,836, with four legislative leaders earning an additional $24,477. The suspension may wind up in court, as language in the state constitution prohibits legislative pay cuts during a lawmaker’s term in office.
In addition to suspending the legislatures’ pay, Quinn authorized the state Comptroller to suspend his pay as well.