If the governor can take away lawmakers’ paychecks because they have not given him a pension bill he can sign, what’s to stop future governors from doing the same thing on other subjects? Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the governor’s move, claiming the branches of government are separate and equal, and the governor’s veto of their pay breaches that.
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State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) says the governor’s own sacrifice of pay is voluntary, and if lawmakers are inclined to do the same, they should be able to do so – but that, too, should be voluntary. “Gov. Quinn learned well from his mentor, Rod Blagojevich,” said Franks. “I get it, and it is popular. But it is disingenuous, because the governor is the one who ought to be leading on this issue, and he’s the one who’s done absolutely nothing, and he’s the reason we have this problem.”
The General Assembly this year was unable to agree on a way out of the estimated $100 billion unfunded pension liability. Before vetoing legislators’ pay, the governor ordered a conference committee to work something out, but the committee is still working.
A statement from the governor’s office says: “Instead of focusing on resolving the state’s pension crisis … legislators have chosen to focus on their own paychecks and waste taxpayer time and money on this lawsuit.”