The Illinois State Capitol
A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that Illinois has no authority to pay state employees without an enacted budget.
In response to Judge Diane Larsen’s ruling, Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a statement indicating that critical services will continue uninterrupted during the legislative budget impasse. That includes services for children in the foster care system, low-income families who cannot afford to pay for groceries, and mentally and physically disabled individuals who need residential support, Madigan said.
“I absolutely want state employees to be paid their full wages,” Madigan said in a press release. “But the Illinois Constitution and case law are clear: The state cannot pay employees without a budget. The judge’s order reaffirms this. It remains up to the governor and the Legislature to enact a state budget to allow for necessary government operations and programs to continue.”
Republican Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said her office will appeal the judge’s decision.
“I am disappointed and respectfully disagree with today’s ruling,” Munger said in a press release. “We went to court to ensure that my office can comply with federal law and compensate employees for services they are already providing to the state. Ultimately, that can best be accomplished by paying all workers as scheduled. I am most concerned about the impact this decision will have on our ability to pay those providing services to our most vulnerable residents, and I will continue to seek a remedy with their interests at the forefront of my mind.”
Democrats say Gov. Bruce Rauner is essentially holding the budget hostage over what they consider non-budget demands: workers’ compensation and lawsuit reform, a property tax freeze, term limits and independent legislative redistricting.
Rauner, in turn, says Democrats have sent him a $36 billion budget that’s $4 billion short on funding, and he won’t sign a bill that fails both common sense and the state constitution.
Illinois News Network reporter Mark Fitton contributed to this report.