* 2:32 pm - Wow…
*** UPDATE *** * 2:45 pm - The ruling can be downloaded by clicking here.
* The judge rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that by not vetoing the “total” lines in the appropriations bill he hadn’t really vetoed the money. The judge said it was “abundantly clear” that everybody knew the governor’s intent.
* The judge relied on the Jorgensen case, which involved cost of living increases for judges, to rule that the comptroller must “immediately” pay salaries, plus interest.
* More Judge Cohen…
Governor Quinn invites this court to consider statements made during the 1970 Constitutional Convention in construing the word “changes.” This court declines to do so. It would only be proper to consider the debates… if there was doubt as to the common meaning of “changes.”
That means the judge ruled legislative salaries cannot be raised or lowered during a term of office. The governor had argued that Con-Con delegates only referred to stopping legislators from increasing their pay during their terms.
* 3:17 pm - Cullerton react…
Senate President John J. Cullerton released the following statement on Judge Cohen’s order in Cullerton v. Quinn:
“Today the circuit court vindicated the Illinois Constitution as Judge Cohen ruled to protect and preserve the separation of powers. Now that the governor’s actions have been answered by a court, I trust that we can put aside all distractions and focus on the goal of pension reform.
“Pension reform remains our top priority. Even while this case was pending, the legislature never stopped working on this issue. I applaud the progress of the pension conference committee as its members shape a pension plan that maximizes our savings and upholds a fundamental standard of fairness.”
Any bets on whether Quinn will file an appeal?
*** UPDATE *** * 3:20 pm - I got the answer to my own question. I’m told that Quinn will appeal.
Quinn can ask the judge to stay his ruling during the appeal, which would hold up the checks, but Cohen doesn’t have to comply.
* 3:26 pm - Bruce Rauner react…
Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement regarding Judge Neil Cohen’s ruling that Illinois must pay lawmakers:
“When Pat Quinn suspended legislators pay I called it ‘just another political stunt.’ More than two months later, the pension system is still broken.
We don’t need any more political stunts. We need a leader who is willing to take on the government union bosses and special interests that control Springfield, and the crowd in charge now refuses to do it. I’ll get the job done.”
*** UPDATE *** * 3:41 pm - I’m told that Quinn may ask for a stay this afternoon. So, there’s kind of a behind the scenes race going on right now between the comptroller’s office, which is quickly processing the checks, and Quinn’s attorneys, who want an immediate stay.
* 3:45 pm - Quinn statement on his appeal and request for a stay…
Governor Pat Quinn Statement on Judge Ruling Against Suspension of Legislative Pay
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn issued the below statement regarding today’s ruling by Judge Neil Cohen to allow legislators to receive their paychecks:
“I respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision.
“On behalf of Illinois taxpayers, I intend to appeal the decision and seek a court stay that would prevent any legislative paychecks from being issued until this case is considered by a higher court.
“However, this case is about far more than just the Governor’s constitutional authority to suspend the appropriations for legislative paychecks.
“The reason I suspended legislative paychecks in the first place – and refused to accept my own – is because Illinois taxpayers can’t afford an endless cycle of promises, excuses, delays and inertia on the most critical challenge of our time.
“Illinois’ pension crisis is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a day; robbing our children of the education and public safety services they desperately need; and holding our economy back from real recovery.
“I will not accept a paycheck until a comprehensive pension reform bill is on my desk, and neither should legislators.
“Nobody in Springfield should get paid until the pension reform job gets done.”
*** UPDATE *** JBT…
TOPINKA: COURT HAS RULED, PAYCHECK PROCESSING TO BEGIN
Comptroller instructs staff to process payments for lawmakers
CHICAGO - Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka made the following statement Thursday in response to the Court’s ruling to restore compensation for lawmakers:
“In light of today’s Court ruling, I have instructed my staff to begin processing salary payments for Illinois lawmakers. I have consistently said action was required by the General Assembly or the Court to authorize restoration of those payments. That has now occurred, and the Comptroller’s Office will comply. Processing of paychecks for August, September and October begins today.”
* 4:10 pm - From Speaker Madigan’s spokesman…
At this point we will defer comment until issues such as a stay are resolved
*** UPDATE *** * 4:14 pm - Topinka just told Roe Conn of WLS that paychecks will be issued by Monday.
* 4:17 pm - Twitters…
*** UPDATE *** * 4:19 pm - Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno…
“It will be unfortunate if the decision is appealed and a further waste of taxpayer dollars. 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.”
* 4:22 pm - Sun-Times…
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill Brady described the governor’s original move to withhold legislative pay as “dirty politics” and said any appeal of Thursday’s ruling by Quinn would be “a waste of money.”
“Clearly, when he did this, his own party, particularly the majority party, the Democrats, were very upset, and it didn’t help us move forward on pension reform,” Brady said in an interview with the Sun-Times. “Hopefully, we can set this aside now, get down to brass tacks and come up with a meaningful pension package that will protect the interests of the people who paid into the system and will give us a financial platform to move forward on.”
The state senator from Bloomington also urged Quinn not to appeal.
“The decision has been made. The judge has looked at it. It would just be a waste of money and further erode any chance we have of a meaningful pension package,” Brady said.
“It’s not something I would have done, although I understand in the public eye the governor may have hit a grand slam. But it’s really kind of dirty politics, and he certainly didn’t help himself,” Brady said.
*** UPDATE *** * 6:33 pm - Comptroller Topinka talked to the media today and compared Quinn’s veto to “blackmail.” She also said legislators signed up for direct deposit would likely get their pay tomorrow morning. Listen…