* The governor and AFSCME claim that state and federal law require the comptroller to issue pay checks to state workers even if no budget exists. They didn’t actually cite any specific statutes, however, and the state’s Constitution is pretty specific…
The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State.
* The Daily Herald got a bit sarcastic about the situation…
Budget? We ain’t got no budget. We don’t need no budget.
That, with all apologies to the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, sums up Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s view on whether state spending should continue even though Illinois has no budget.
On Tuesday, Blagojevich suggested state Comptroller Dan Hynes keep writing checks regardless of the budget situation, saying the state continues to collect money and it should all work out in the end.
“Refusing to pay state employees for their hard work is tantamount to shutting state government down,” Blagojevich said in a letter to Hynes.
But Hynes, the Chicago Democrat elected to keep watch on the state’s checkbook, begs to differ.
He said the governor is playing politics with people’s paychecks and lives and needs to stop. And he strongly questioned the soundness of the governor’s belief that a budget isn’t needed to make payroll.
“Keep in mind, he’s the one who admitted himself he got a C in constitutional law and brags about it,” Hynes told downstate WICS-TV. “So, I’m not sure his opinion is the one that’s going to rule the day.”
* The State Journal-Register, which often advocates for state employees, also parted ways on the issue…
A new wrinkle in the state budget developed Tuesday. It turns out we don’t need one. […]
The state constitution requires a budget. There is a lot of wisdom in following that constitution rather than making up rules on the fly because the General Assembly and governor could not get their acts together enough to abide by state law.
The better solution here is not to skirt state law but for state officials to do their jobs. […]
If [Hynes] doesn’t cut checks, even if he doesn’t believe he has the legal authority to do so, then he becomes the fall guy. At least it appears that’s what Blagojevich would like.
Exactly right. For the governor, at least, this is about shifting blame for the lack of a budget.
* Lisa Madigan was asked her opinion yesterday…
[Attorney General Madigan] declined to issue an opinion but forwarded to Hynes a state appeals court ruling on a 1991 AFSCME lawsuit that sought to force Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch to issue paychecks during a budget impasse.
The court held Netsch had no authority to do that, and a Hynes aide said that would be the basis for the comptroller not to distribute paychecks during the stalemate.
* So, why did AG Madigan refuse to issue an opinion?
a spokeswoman said the attorney general would not issue an opinion because of AFSCME’s threat of a lawsuit.
* But the hooplah is a bit overblown on both sides…
The first group of state employees to miss checks would be those paid on the 15th and last days of each month. Hynes said last week he needed to begin processing those payments today. Schools receive their state money on the 10th and 20th of the month.
Another group of state employees would normally receive their paychecks Aug. 22, Lindall said. They include employees of the Illinois State Police and the Department of Central Management Services, he said.
In other words, today is the day that Hynes would normally begin processing pay checks. He could probably set up a contingency plan to process them now and issue them as soon as a budget deal was reached. Compromise would be nice.