Top Illinois lawmakers sue governor over pay veto

July 30, 2013

The two top lawmakers in Illinois are suing Gov. Pat Quinn for suspending the pay of Springfield legislators.

Earlier this month, Quinn said lawmakers wouldn’t get paid until they passed pension reform. In retaliation, the Speaker of the House Michael Madigan and the Senate President John Cullerton released a lawsuit in Cook County Court Tuesday.

The lawsuit begins with the phrase, “Not since Governor Blagojevich,” right off the bat, comparing Quinn to his now-imprisoned predecessor.

In the filing, Cullerton and Madigan say Rod Blagojevich had tried to reduce the salaries of judges, something that was later found to be unconstitutional. They say Quinn’s move is similar and compromises the separation of powers between branches of government.

“Every day that passes, with the salaries of...members of the General Assembly remaining unpaid and eliminated, is a threat to the independence of a co-equal branch of state government,” the lawsuit states.

The point being; if Quinn can suspend lawmakers’ pay for pension reform this time, what’s to say the next time around, it won’t be gun control or abortion rights or tax policy.

Quinn is standing his ground, though.

In a statement, he said the lawsuit is, “just plain wrong” and if the same effort had been put into pension reform as the lawsuit, pensions would’ve been fixed by now.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.