A St. Clair County judge has denied Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion to halt state employee pay in the absence of a complete state budget. Illinois has gone nearly 20 months without Gov. Bruce Rauner and General Assembly coming together to create a full, balanced spending plan. It means state employees will continue to be paid as legislators and the governor continue their fight over how to pay for Illinois government.
Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said in a statement the attorney general will appeal the judge’s order.
“We think the law is clear. The Illinois Constitution requires an enacted appropriation for state spending,” Possley said. “Under the current injunction, the state has spent over $3 billion in taxpayer money without any transparency or legislative debate as required by law. The Governor is using this injunction to avoid following the Constitution and enacting a budget, irreparably harming the people of Illinois.”
Rauner’s general counsel, Dennis Murashko, welcomed the judge’s decision.
“We’re pleased our hard working state employees, who show up to work every day on behalf of the people of Illinois, will continue to be paid,” Murashko said in a statement. “It is our hope the Attorney General drops this lawsuit so the bipartisan negotiations in the Senate can continue in order to reach a balanced budget with changes to get our state back on track.”
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) have been working on a “grand bargain” budget proposal that includes elements of Rauner’s pro-business, union-weakening legislative agenda. During his budget address Wednesday, Rauner said he wanted that plan to include more of his priorities, such as a permanent freeze on property taxes.
The St. Clair County judge’s decision was also greeted by the state’s largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which fought to keep state workers paid.
“Through all state government’s chaos of the past two years, the people of Illinois have been able to rely on state workers to be there, providing important public services,” said AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch in a statement. “This decision ensures that that commitment can continue.”
This is a breaking news story. Check back for more updates.
WBEZ staff contributed to this report.