Illinois Legislators Sue Over Pay Delay

Dec 2, 2016

A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly. They've gone without compensation since May 31.

After nearly a year-and-a-half without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills.

Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislator pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

Democrats, like Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, from Hillside, say that's just a way to help push Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial agenda. And that, he says, is unconstitutional.

"The executive branch cannot ... coerce or use undue influence to pressure the legislative branch," Welch says.

But Munger says Welch and the other five Democrats named in the lawsuit are putting themselves ahead of hospitals, schools, and human service contractors — all waiting for Illinois to make good on its debts.

Munger says she's just treating politicians like everyone else owed money by the state of Illinois.

"We ended the month of October with just $10 million in cash available in the state to pay nearly $8 billion in bills," Munger says. "And yet these lawmakers are going to court now to ask that they receive preferential treatment and get paid first."

The lawsuit comes as Munger, a Republican appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner, is about to leave office.

She lost a special election to Democrat Susana Mendoza, who says she'll continue delaying legislator pay unless a judge says otherwise.