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Cullerton will call pay raise rollback bill

Thursday, Jul 30, 2015

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Senate President John Cullerton will support a bill to halt legislative pay raises during the Senate session next week, despite calling the measure “blatantly unconstitutional.” […]

House Speaker Michael Madigan on Tuesday pushed through a bill to block the cost-of-living increases, calling it another effort to meet Rauner “half way” as the budget impasse drags on.

On Wednesday, Cullerton told the Sun-Times Editorial Board that he’ll call the bill next week.

“We’re going to call that next week, and I’m going to support it,” Cullerton said, adding that “it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” but “nobody’s gonna sue.”

If it gets to the floor, it passes.

* Mark Brown writes about the Cullerton statements

Pardon me if I don’t salute this as a great victory for democracy.

The legislative pay hike, as Madigan observed last week, is a “diversion” from the serious business in which Rauner and the General Assembly need to be engaged of passing a balanced budget.

Eliminating the pay raise itself amounts to less than $250,000 in savings on a budget with a multibillion-dollar hole, although Democrats claimed they had increased the savings to about $500,000 by also getting rid of planned increases in per diem and mileage reimbursements paid to legislators. […]

Just the same, Democrats should have been smart enough to forgo the pay raises on their own without any prompting from Rauner, not because it was the right thing to do, but because they should have anticipated the governor would exploit it to make it more difficult for them to prevail on the important stuff.

I’m particularly surprised that Madigan, normally a master of such diversions, didn’t act sooner.

I’m surprised, too, but Madigan is not ever known for moving fast until he’s ready.

The bigger surprise is that he didn’t make a huge show out of halting the pay hikes when he knew the GA was headed for overtime.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - tominchicago - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:21 pm:

    I agree. this is the first notable mistake that MJM has made so far. You would think that it would have been an obvious move given how much mileage Quinn got our “denying” legislator’s salaries last year.

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:24 pm:

    Gov Rauner says he wants to pay employees and AG Madigan is out the same day with a press release outlining all the ways it is unconstitutional. Then she files suit.

    The House takes action that is ==blatantly unconstitutional== and the AG responds with crickets?

    I respect her and give her the benefit of the doubt, but the AG is at risk of undermining her own credibility.

  3. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:26 pm:

    ===The House takes action that is ==blatantly unconstitutional===

    The House’s action might not have been because members hadn’t yet been paid. The Senate’s will be. We’ll see.

  4. - Juvenal - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:27 pm:

    Perhaps this is a question for RNUG, but isn’t the impact on new legislators like Avery Bourne gonna be much more that a one year hit of a couple grand?

    Assuming they never make that percent hike up, it repeats and compounds each year, right? And then compounds even further in retirement?

  5. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:30 pm:

    “it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” but “nobody’s gonna sue.”

    Peak Illinois.

    – MrJM

  6. - AC - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:33 pm:

    Good to see this distraction removed, and it’s not as if this is the first bill known to be unconstitutional that’s been called for a vote.

  7. - walker - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:34 pm:

    ==”…I’m going to support it,” Cullerton said, adding that “it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” but “nobody’s gonna sue.”==

    I get the politics, but boy is that a bad standard for legislative behavior!

  8. - x ace - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:36 pm:

    Madigan and Cullerton are Lawyers , Rauner is not. All three now want to violate the Constitution . Other legislators are lawyers too.

    Does an Illinois Lawyer have any special license risks if the lawyer knowingly supports or knowingly takes Unconstitutional Action ?

    Or are legislators immune ?

  9. - The Colossus of Roads - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:39 pm:

    People make decisions all the time, some good, some bad, some lucky and some unlucky. To second guess someone’s decision is very easy. Whether he should have done this earlier is debatable, however, he has now told the public, I did this for the taxpayers and the Governor. I do care. Let’s try to move on with some compromises.

  10. - Tony - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:39 pm:

    “it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” but ….
    This state’s entire leadership is a disgrace.

  11. - Wensicia - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:41 pm:

    Does this set a precedent?

  12. - Archiesmom - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:44 pm:

    I know Senators who don’t want to vote for it because of the constitutional issue, but it’s a much bigger headache for them to have to defend that vote in 2016 when the “you voted for a pay raise whilst the state burned” mailers come out. They’re the ones suffering the harm through the rollback, and this is one case where principle is getting sacrificed to political reality.

  13. - Archiesmom - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    if you want to talk ethics, this is nothing compared to voting for a blatantly unconstitutional pension reform bill.

  14. - a drop in - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 1:52 pm:

    I don’t think the AG can sue on her own. I think someone needs to “complain”.

  15. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:02 pm:

    === I get the politics, but boy is that a bad standard for legislative behavior! ===

    They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again.

    === Does this set a precedent? ===

    I’m inferring your asking if this somehow legitimizes the action because they took this vote. No. The constitutional provides an individual right. The GA can’t legislate it away.

    If that’s not what your were thinking see my statement above your question.

  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:02 pm:

    I don’t think the AG can sue on her own. I think someone needs to “complain”==

    She absolutely can, on behalf of “The People of Illinois”

  17. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:04 pm:

    ==The House’s action might not have been because members hadn’t yet been paid==

    Maybe it was not. Salary would seem to be established and confirmed at the start of the pay period, but if they have not actually received their payment some could argue it is not a ==change in salary==. As you said, ==we’ll see==.

    The circus continues.

  18. - burbanite - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:08 pm:

    While the AG can issue an opinion. She can’t take court action until the Senate votes and the Governor signs. It isn’t ripe yet.

  19. - A lawyer - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:10 pm:

    I’m 100% sure Lisa Madigan will go to court to block this because it is unconstitutional to reduce a legislator’s pay during the term. Riiiiight.

  20. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:15 pm:

    ==Whether he should have done this earlier is debatable==

    Had he done this even slightly earlier, the constitutional pickle he now put Dems in never would have happened.

    The way he finally did it also hangs the Senate out to dry ==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==.

  21. - A lawyer - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:16 pm:

    Article IV, Section 11 of the Illinois Constitution prohibits reduction of a legislator’s pay during the term. So why move this? Can you say phony - baloney nonsense?

  22. - cdog - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:43 pm:

    I heard a radio news broadcast yesterday that ended this story by saying — “the savings from repealing the GA payraise, is LESS THAN Gov Rauner’s NEW EXECUTIVE RUNNING THE STATES’ DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION!!!! whoa!

    It is the truth. It’s just numbers.

  23. - Triple fat - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    But can the opposition criticize him for not proposing unconstitutional legislation then criticize him for passing said unconstitutional language? You bet they can and will once the Court rules it Unconstitutional. I think the Speaker’s timing on this was impeccable.

  24. - A guy - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 2:58 pm:

    And for the first time in American History…

    “nobody’s gonna sue”.

    That’s pretty powerful all on it’s own.

  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 3:05 pm:

    A guy:

    That’s a FIFTH thing Madigan has given Rauner - Tort Reform.

  26. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 3:06 pm:

    That was me above

  27. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 3:30 pm:

    This is pathetic on so many fronts…the three egotists should be ashamed of themselves…

  28. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 3:46 pm:

    ==I think the Speaker’s timing on this was impeccable==

    Madigan’s timing makes Senate Dems pick between him or the constitution. It ends poorly.

    If they pick the constitution, they keep a very unpopular pay raise while not fulfilling basic job requirements like passing a balanced budget. If they pick the speaker, the Attorney General almost certainly has to sue to stop their unconstitutional actions or she loses credibility.

  29. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    Whatever. It’s a hangover from Quinn trying to make nice with Big Brain Bruce by pulling his Banana Republic move on legislative pay.

    Means nothing.

    Back in grown up land, about 80% of FY16 is in the clear.

    For all intents and purposes, the budget is done, without the governor’s input or any “victories.”

    All that remains is fhe heavy lift of funding $7 billion in anticipated social service, higher ed, and group insurance with $2 billion in available revenue.

    FAFSA has to be in place in a couple of weeks for the kids going back to school.

    It’s lunacy to think that the governor will take the heat on eliminating social services in every legislative district in the state. Seriously, who thought that was possible? They’re demented.

    And insurance? Give me a break.

    It’s strange, after all these months, that the Rauner crew thinks they can still bluff, after they’ve folded, time and time again, every time they got called.

    Who wouldn’t want to play poker with these guys?

  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 30, 15 @ 8:53 pm:

    I wonder if Senate Repubs will vote for an unconstitutional bill?

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