Being pegged as likely the first thing Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have jointly done in a long while that pleases hordes of Illinois citizens, the two Springfield, Illinois politicians haave filed a lawsuit against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, according to NBC News on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Gov. Pat Quinn – who is running for reelection next year – made what many are calling a cheap political stunt to appease his electorate as he desperately tries to improve his public image which is in the dumpster according to numerous political polls taken since he raised taxes 67 percent during a lame duck session in the Illinois Congress shortly after he was elected. The alleged-appeasing stunt was when Quinn stated that the Illinois state lawmakers would not get paid until they settled the state’s pension crisis.
Many critics of Quinn have said that the governor is basically holding the pay of his state’s lawmakers until they do things the way he wants them to do things. Apparently, before allegedly-playing the political game, Quinn didn’t do his homework. Come to find out, it is not legal to withhold a legislator’s pay – in spite of Quinn’s governmental and veto powers as governor – according to the Illinois Constitution.
As the state’s two top legislative lawmakers – Madigan and Cullerton – announced in a press conference on Tuesday:
Just as the Illinois Constitution of 1970 protects the right of each judge to receive a salary and not have their salary reduced during their term of office, the Constitution also requires that each legislator receive a salary and prohibits changes in the salaries of legislators during their terms of office.
With that statement, the two filed a lawsuit against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in Cook County Court on Tuesday.
Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is also named in the lawsuit as she has said that paychecks to thousands of state employees could not be sent – even though they are ready – until the governor approves the issuance of the paychecks. Topinka has said all along that she hoped the matter would have been settled by the end of the month so that she could issue the checks on time, and she also said that the government – allegedly-via Gov. Quinn – should not be run through threats and blackmail.
Quinn’s response is that if Madigan and Cullerton would have spent as much effort in solving the state’s $497 billion pension shortfall as they have in drawing up the lawsuit against Quinn, the pension reform legislation would have been done by now.
Madigan and Cullerton maintain that the veto action of Gov. Pat Quinn threatens the independence of each branch of government. They said that by eliminating salaries of the members of the General Assembly, Quinn has chosen to disregard the constitutional separation of power – as Quinn is the Executive Branch and the lawmakers who aren’t getting paid are the Legislative Branch. Quinn, incidentally, stopped his own pay from being issued until the pension ordeal is solved, too. The next paychecks were to go out on August 1.
Bill Daley, the brother and son of the former Chicago mayors named Daley, criticized Quinn for playing the political stunt via sitting on legislatures’ checks, and also announced on Tuesday that he is officially running for governor of Illinois against Pat Quinn in next year’s Democratic primary. Daley, who served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff for a short time, also believes that Quinn’s stunt in withholding paychecks is illegal.