* From Gov. Bruce Rauner’s e-mail to state employees yesterday…
Our lawyers are working hard to ensure that all employees will be paid on their scheduled pay dates. The precedent already exists. This is the right thing to do and I will work with union leaders to fight any legal attempts to overturn existing precedent.
* But take a look at this summary of AFSCME’s 2007 suit to force the state to make payroll. It was posted by the SJ-R back in the day. Click here or on the pic for a larger version…
“The Agreed Order was not precedent for any other lawsuit, issue or claim.”
Indeed, as I recall, the Christian County judge told the union not to come back to him ever again. And two years later, in 2009, when AFSCME tried again to force the state to issue pay checks, it did so in St. Clair County.
* The issue in 2007 was the state’s problems complying with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Comptroller Dan Hynes and the union argued that state agencies simply did not have the time to figure out who was eligible to receive federal minimum wages under the FLSA.
In 2009, Comptroller Hynes issued a memo to all state agency fiscal officers telling them that they needed to make contingency preparations in case appropriations weren’t approved. The governor’s office balked because of this particular language…
In addition to the traditional certification required by Section 9.03 of the State Finance Act (30 ILCS 105/9.03), the Office of the Comptroller will require additional certification to accompany each FLSA payroll voucher certifying that lawful expenditure authority for the voucher exists in the absence of appropriations. The certification shall be signed and dated by the agency’s chief executive officer, the chief legal counsel, and the chief fiscal officer. The certification shall be as follows:
“I certify, based upon review of applicable law and facts, that lawful expenditure authority exists for the attached voucher(s).”
This additional certification will ensure the proper identification and timely processing of lawful payments. Please be reminded that knowingly and intentionally executing a false certification under Section 9.03 of the State Finance Act shall result in removal from office if done by an officer or discharge if done by an employee (30 ILCS 105/9.06). [Emphasis added.]
The suit was rendered moot when the budget was passed.
* This time around, Attorney General Madigan warned the administration that it needed to start working on this certification process. That warning tipped the governor’s office that Madigan was prepared to oppose AFSCME’s suit like she did in 2009. And that resulted in Rauner’s e-mail yesterday standing in solidarity with AFSCME.
* But that’s pretty much just pure posturing. From the Illinois Constitution…
The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. […]
The State… shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance.
Yesterday’s announcement by AG Madigan that she would oppose AFSCME’s suit also included this precedent that strongly argues against the governor’s stance…
The Illinois Appellate Court has specifically addressed the issue of whether the State can pay employees in the absence of a budget. During the budget impasse in 1991, a number of State employee unions sued the Comptroller and asked the court to issue an order compelling the Comptroller to issue paychecks due on July 15. In AFSCME v. Netsch, 216 III. App. 3d 566, 568 (4th Dist. 1991), the court held that the Comptroller could not pay State employees in the absence of an appropriation and “any attempt by the comptroller to issue the funds in the absence of an appropriation bill signed into law by the governor would create obvious problems under the separation-of-powers doctrine.” The Netsch court determined that an appropriation was necessary “to prevent government operations from being brought to a complete stop.” Id. at 568-69 (citing People ex rel. Kirk v. Lindberg, 59 III. 2d 38, 42-43 (1974)).
…Adding… A commenter pointed to a Daily Herald editorial posted here in 2007…
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.
You gotta wonder where the Rauner-leaning editorial boards are gonna land on this one. I’m figuring they’ll just ignore the whole thing.