* A couple of things got lost in the crazy shuffle last night when Barton and I were posting statements regarding Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legal motion to dismiss the state employee pay order. For instance, Barton rightly asked the AG’s office this last night…
The question I keep getting is why now? Why not weeks or even months ago?
The second paragraph from the AG office’s response was inadvertently left out, so here’s the statement in full…
It has always been our goal to allow the executive and legislative branches to do their job without further litigation. While the stopgap budget was in place, it was our hope that the Governor and Legislature would continue to work to enact a full fiscal year budget. The Legislature and the Governor now face the need to enact a budget for the rest of the fiscal year. With the legislature in session, this is an appropriate time to address the need to pass a full budget to cover all operations.
Also, the burden of the budget impasse has unfairly fallen on the non-profits and vendors that serve millions of Illinois residents. Some of these organizations have been irreparably harmed in the process. The State can avoid causing further damage to them and avoid any impacts to State employees if the Governor and the Legislature take action to enact a full budget.
The AG’s motion is here. Last year’s Supreme Court ruling on an almost identical matter is here.
* The last part of Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s statement also wasn’t posted…
The Office of the Comptroller is currently moving forward with contingency plans to meet the technical adjustments that a payroll stoppage would require. For example, employees in certain categories would receive partial payments and their paychecks and deductions would have to be adjusted accordingly.
Despite the possibility of a payroll stoppage over the last 18 months, the previous administration did not put in place policies to deal with this scenario.
You can’t force someone to work for no pay. The Civil War decided that question. But you can use federal law to designate “essential” workers and then pay them minimum wage. The previous comptroller argued in court that this would take months and may have even been impossible.
However, I am told that former Comptroller Munger’s office had developed a list of workers who could be labeled as essential. Maybe somebody in Mendoza’s office should pick up a phone.
* I was in Decatur about to give a speech to the local Chamber of Commerce when I found out about the filing and called Barton in a panic. Thank goodness for Barton! Anyway, for some reason, my speech was deemed newsworthy by the Herald & Review…
A judge had previously ruled state workers could continue being paid throughout a standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature, although nobody knew that the impasse would last as long as it has, said Rich Miller, founder of CEO of the Capitol Fax, a daily newsletter about Illinois government. […]
The lawsuit puts pressure on Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, the attorney general’s father, to come together on a budget agreement by the end of February, Miller said. […]
“We could be seeing the end of this stalemate,” Miller said. “I would have given [the Senate grand bargain] a 50-50 chance. We need more than that or we’ll be in trouble like nobody has ever seen in the history of history. Illinois is already a national and in many ways an international embarrassment.”
What a crazy night. I had prepared a speech about the Senate’s grand bargain and then this AG thing happened so I had to retool the whole speech on the fly.
* Let’s move to the Tribune story…
Madigan’s office filed the request Thursday afternoon in St. Clair County Circuit Court, seeking to undo a July 2015 ruling from St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Robert LeChien that said the state must pay workers in full despite a lack of a budget agreement.
Madigan makes it clear in the court paperwork that she’s trying to raise the pressure to get a budget in place, saying the judge’s order “has allowed the legislative and executive branches to fail to fulfill their constitutional duties without facing the real threat of a government shutdown.” […]
“With no possibility of a government shutdown to force action by the legislative and executive branches, the state has continued to operate without a budget to fund many services provided by vendors and grantees,” Madigan said in the filing. “Those vendors and grantees and the many Illinoisans they serve are bearing the brunt of this egregious and untenable budget impasse. This situation does not usually happen for long on the federal level or in other states precisely because the possibility of a government shutdown eventually leads to the passage and enactment of a budget.” […]
In the latest motion, Madigan argues a recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling rejected the idea that withholding pay would violate employee contracts, saying collective bargaining agreements are subject to funding from the legislature.
* On to the Sun-Times coverage, which has Speaker Madigan’s response to an ILGOP blast…
“While serious bipartisan negotiations have accelerated in the Senate, it is outrageous that Lisa Madigan tonight decided to put Speaker Madigan’s power politics ahead of hard-working families in an effort to shut down state government,” state GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement. “Only a Madigan would try to disrupt bipartisan momentum in a matter that threatens to cripple government services and hurt state workers and their families.”
Steve Brown, spokesman for the speaker, called the Republican Party’s comments “off base” and “not surprising.”
“The attorney general is her own person and will do what she chooses is the best thing to do,” Brown said, adding there is no basis to the questioning of the timing of the filing.
“They’ve [The Senate leaders] set their deadline. They are moving on their plan. I don’t see the connection frankly,” Brown said.
* And the SJ-R has a couple of reacts that we didn’t post…
Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti: “Just one day after Governor Rauner thanked the Senate for their work to reach a bipartisan agreement on a balanced budget, Attorney General Madigan is attempting to disrupt that progress by filing a lawsuit that could shut down government operations. Illinois’ hardworking state employees deserve to be paid so they can continue to support their families who depend on their work.
State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Leland Grove: “In the midst of an unprecedented budget crisis, our state employees have continued to perform their work every day and have provided services to the people of Illinois while facing tremendous pressure and uncertainty. I am thankful that every state employee has continued to receive a paycheck throughout this impasse. It is extremely disappointing to hear that Attorney General Lisa Madigan is attempting to block state employee pay until a budget is finalized. We have seen tremendous progress in the last couple of weeks towards hopefully ending this stalemate. I am calling upon Attorney General Madigan to drop her efforts to block state employee pay and allow the members of the General Assembly to finish the work that the Senate has begun and negotiate a balanced budget that will get our state back on the right path.”
I’m sure there’s more to come.