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Does No Budget Mean No Paychecks For State Workers?

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even if Illinois lawmakers and the governor can't reach a budget deal by Wednesday, state employees have another two weeks before they really need to worry about being paid. That's when their first paychecks of the new fiscal year are set to be issued.  But there's confusion over whether they'll get money after that point, or not.

An email sent by Gov. Rauner takes a reassuring tone.

"State employees will be paid for their work --- and I will do everything within my power to ensure you don’t miss a single payroll," he writes.

But will the money come through?

"What state law -- the Illinois constitution and state statutes -- as well as case law, show, very clearly, is that without a budget in place you cannot fully pay for state employees while they're in the midst of this budget impasse," said Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for Democratic Attorney General, Lisa Madigan.

The governor says a court order from 2007 -- a previous instance of Illinois politicians failing to reach an agreement -- should be the model. Workers then got paid.

But the court made clear then: that was NOT to serve as precedent in the future.

Some employees could take home some money if this year's stalemate continues. Bauer says a federal law requires rank-and-file level employees get paid the minimum wage. There are a few other exceptions.

AFSCME, the state's largest public workers' union, says it's prepared to take legal action if needed so its members take home their full salaries, on time.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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