* As I told subscribers earlier today, the Senate wasn’t consulted beforehand and won’t be back to town until after legislators receive their first paychecks with the COLA increases in them, which means there are some constitutional issues…
The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to repeal the annual cost-of-living increase that bumped up lawmakers’ salaries as Democrats who control the chamber tried to blunt Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s contention that legislators should not get raises while the state budget goes unresolved. […]
But a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton said his office would have to review the constitutionality of the pay raise legislation. That’s because a Cook County court previously has ruled it would violate the state constitution for legislative salaries to be changed in the middle of a term. That court decision followed an effort in 2013 by then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn to hold up lawmaker pay as he tried to get them to send him a cost-cutting pension bill.
“It’s something that the court ruled, that, because of separation of powers, you can’t have a situation where the executive branch, like Gov. Quinn, holds up people’s salaries in order to force them to vote for a bill,” Cullerton said last week.
“Unfortunately, it’s the state constitution. And I think you would understand that if we didn’t like some judicial decision, we said, ‘Oh, Supreme Court, you’re working for $1 now,’ that would obviously not be a part of the separation of powers. It’s the same principle.”
* From the Constitution…
A member shall receive a salary and allowances as provided by law, but changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been elected.
The salary changes were approved in the previous term. Once they start getting paychecks, it’s probably not legal to lower those salaries.
The big question is, though, would anybody have the, um, temerity to sue? Probably not.
* React from the governor’s office…
“Governor Rauner appreciates today’s action in the House and thanks all those members who showed leadership on this issue. We encourage President Cullerton to swiftly move this legislation to the governor’s desk for his signature. Governor Rauner is ready to work with Speaker Madigan, Leader Durkin and all members of the General Assembly to pass true structural reforms and a balanced budget.”