Gov. Quinn To Halt Lawmaker Pay

July 10, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn is using his veto power to try and suspend state lawmakers' pay because of their inaction on Illinois' pension crisis.

The Chicago Democrat said there will be no paychecks for legislators until they get the job done.

“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."

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana) predicted legislators will return to Springfield soon to override the governor's veto. She called Quinn's action 'petty,' saying he was pandering to voters. Jakobsson expected members of a conference committee to reach a pension solution soon.

"People have been working," she said. "And just because he didn't get what he wanted by the day that he wanted it doesn't mean people have not been working hard, been working earnestly, and trying to come up with the best bill that can be put together."

State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) agreed Quinn is trying to reach out to voters, but also cited concerns about Democrats.

"This is pointing out to the public yet again the utter dysfunction the majority party has," he said.  "And unfortunately, they control all the levers of state government."

Two members of the bipartisan committee working to fix Illinois' $97 billion pension problem say Gov. Quinn's decision to cut legislator pay won't help the process.

Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) is a member of the 10-person panel. He called Quinn's actions Wednesday a "stunt'' and said they could inflame an already difficult situation.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) is the committee's vice chairwoman. She said the pay cut does "nothing to move us toward a solution'' and is "an unnecessary distraction.''

Meanwhile, Illinois Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka said she would seek a legal review of Quinn's action. 

"Specifically, Section 11 of our State Constitution states that 'changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been elected," said Topinka in a press release.

The state has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability, the worst of any state.

Story source: AP