CHICAGO — A Cook County judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to halt lawmaker pay over the pension crisis is unconstitutional and has ordered Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to pay them immediately.
Judge Neil Cohen made the ruling Thursday.
He says the state Constitution makes it clear that lawmakers’ pay can’t be changed while serving they’re serving their terms.
Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators’ salaries from the state budget because they hadn’t fixed Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying Quinn’s actions were unconstitutional and violated the state’s separation of powers. They asked a judge to order paychecks be issued.
Quinn says he disagrees with the judge. He says he intends to appeal and will seek a stay that would prevent any paychecks from being issued until the case is considered by a higher court.
But Topinka says she will begin issuing the checks Monday,including the court ordered interest.
Quinn claims the lawsuit is about more than a governor’s constitutional authority.
He says that Illinois’ unfunded pension system is costing taxpayers.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, calls Quinn’s push to appeal the ruling a further waste of taxpayers money.
“It will be unfortunate if the decision is appealed and a further waste of taxpayer dollars,” remarked Radogno. “Pension reform discussions are moving along with committed legislators meeting regularly, negotiating and working toward a compromise. Illinois desperately needs pension reform. Yet another legal maneuver is a distraction we don’t need.”