GOP says Madigan win is loss for state's most needy
Lawmakers will be able to stuff their wallets even as those depending on state social services suffer, the Illinois Republican Party is charging in the wake of a judge's decision on March 23.
“(The) decision by a Cook County circuit judge to pay lawmakers before social service agencies and the vulnerable is a win for Mike Madigan and a loss for taxpayers and all those who want a balanced budget,” Steven Yaffe, spokesman for the Illinois GOP, said.
Judge Rodolfo Garcia ruled that state lawmakers should receive their paychecks even in the absence of a state budget, reversing earlier court rulings.
Before leaving office, former Comptroller Leslie Munger, who was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, piled lawmaker pay with other unpaid bills last year so that politicians would not be immune to the effects of the lack of a budget.
Several Democratic legislators sued Munger, claiming she was in violation of the state constitution through executive-branch interference with the Legislature. They also claimed she and Rauner were holding up legislators' paychecks for political leverage.
Garcia decided that current Comptroller Susana Mendoza must pay. She cited a law passed in 2014 after the state tried to withhold paychecks over pension reform.
Munger, now deputy governor of Illinois, said the ruling is an example of lawmakers putting their own welfare ahead of taxpayers, human services and the needy, the Associated Press reported. She also said Mendoza should ask for a stay of the ruling pending appeal.
Even though Mendoza and Munger were competitors in a 2016 special election, they appeared to agree on the paycheck issue, as Mendoza chose to keep Munger’s policy after she was elected. Salaries were delayed for months, with the Associated Press observing that June wages were held until the following January.
Now, however, it appears to the Republican Party that Mendoza is toeing the line. She has indicated that she will comply with Garcia's ruling.
"As former Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka did in a 2013 legislator-pay case, I will release the back paychecks to all elected officials consistent with the judge's order," Mendoza said.
Yaffe argued that Mendoza gave in too easily.
"It's mind-boggling that Susana Mendoza is refusing to call for an immediate stay and instead simply deferring to Madigan while also apparently seeking to expand the ruling so she also gets paid,” Yaffe said.
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