Comptroller Leslie Munger’s call for legislation that would stop pay for lawmakers and constitutional officers if there’s not a balanced budget is being written off by Democrats as an election-year stunt.

Munger already is delaying pay to lawmakers because of the state’s nearly $8 billion in backlogged bills. Now Munger is pushing the idea of “no budget, no pay.” 

Democratic State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Dist. 16) called it political rhetoric and said Democrats want a balanced budget too. “We want to put forth a budget that has cuts, which we put forth in 2015, and new revenue. And we want to work with the governor to that end. We want to be thegovernor’s partner in government. We don’t want to be his adversaries. We don’t want to be his employees.” 

Democratic State Rep. Chris Welch (D-Dist. 7) also said the effort is a political ploy. However, Welch said a long history of unbalanced budgets is on both parties. “The reality is that we can do better,” Welch said. “We all can do better on both sides, and I think instead of playing politics withthe issue, we should all get to the table and get a complete state budget for the people of Illinois.”

Welch said that when lawmakers don’t do their job, they should have to answer to constituents. However, Welch said lawmakers should still get paid. 

Democratic State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Dist. 9) also said both parties are at fault. Biss said lawmakers need to be honest about the state’s priorities. “We haven’t done that yet, and the state is hurting as a result. We have to change that behavior.”

Lawmakers aren’t scheduled back in Springfield until after the November election. 

Aside from stopping pay if there’s no budget, Munger said the measure would also block retroactive pay. So the longer there’s no balanced budget, the less lawmakers would make. 

A business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago recently reported that Illinois hasn’t had a balanced budget since the late 1980s. 

The state Constitution said the legislature must pass appropriations that do not exceed expected revenues.
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