Judge Rules that Illinois Can’t Pay State Workers Unless Legislature Passes a Budget

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo
Chicago, IL

On Tuesday, a Cook County judge ruled that the state of Illinois cannot continue to pay state workers until the legislature passes a full budget.

The new fiscal year started at the beginning of July, but the legislature has yet to agree on a budget, and what it has passed was immediately criticized by the state’s new Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, because it is not balanced and did not address massive cost overruns.

The only budget that state lawmakers have come up with so far was $4 billion out of balance, a fact that Governor Rauner said was intolerable.

With budget negotiations at an impasse, many have been wondering how state workers can continue to get paid. Answering that question, Judge Diane Joan Larsen has ruled that only state workers covered under federal minimum wage plus overtime rules may be paid. She further ruled that all other employees must not be paid until a budget is put in place.

Illinois Comptroller Lisa Munger said that this ruling effectively puts a halt to all paychecks, because it would take at least a year to comb through all state employee records to determine which employees fall under the federal rules.

Because of the confusion, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has asked the judge to try to clarify just what the state may pay out without a budget.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com