Payday for state lawmakers, local politicians speak out

By WEEK Reporter

Payday for state lawmakers, local politicians speak out

September 30, 2013 Updated Sep 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Some Illinois lawmakers woke up to paychecks Saturday.

Governor Pat Quinn suspended legislators' pay back in July after they were unable to come up with a solution to Illinois' $100 billion pension problem.

This past week, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka was ordered to immediately begin issuing paychecks with interest to lawmakers. This came after a Cook County Judge ruled that Quinn's decision was unconstitutional.

Lawmakers missed two pay checks over the summer.

Local politicians from both sides of the aisle said they do not believe halting their pay was the best way to solve the pension crisis.

"The judge threw this out because it was unconstitutional," said state Senator Dave Koehler, (D) 46th District. "Legislators should never put either the government, administration or judiciary ever in a compromise. Neither, should they be able to have a strangle-hold on the other."

"This was just a political stunt and that is all it was. I think everyone could see through that. It was a very populous thing for him to do while he is running in a primary," said State Rep. Mike Unes, (R) 91st District.

During a stop in Peoria on Saturday, Governor Pat Quinn defended his decision.

"I respectfully disagree with the decision. I think the Governor does have the right to veto appropriations for the salary of legislators," Quinn said. "We will carry that out in court, but the principle here is I am not taking a pay check, no matter what the court said. I am not getting paid and I don't think any legislators should get paid."

A committee has been meeting all summer to find a solution to the pension crisis.

They hope to pass a bill during the fall veto session, which begins October 22.

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