Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Sunday announced that compensation for Illinois’ General Assembly members and constitutional officers — herself included — will be treated the same as all other government payments and delayed because of the state’s $7.8 billion bill backlog.
Illinois is in its 10th month of operation without a budget in place, leaving the state to pay bills under a patchwork of court orders, consent decrees and statutory authorizations. As a result, the state is expected to dig $6.2 billion deeper in the hole this year, worsening its fiscal condition, exacerbating cash flow challenges and lengthening payment delays.
With families, social service organizations, schools and businesses waiting months for promised payments, Munger said it is appropriate for elected leaders to face delays as well.
“Our social service network is being dismantled, mass layoffs are occurring and small businesses across Illinois are awaiting payments for services they’ve already provided,” Munger said. “As our cash crunch grows in the coming months, it is only appropriate that the unfair prioritization of payments to elected leaders ends. We are all in this together, we all will wait in line.”
Salaries for the state’s six constitutional officers and 177 General Assembly members total approximately $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 million annually. The elected leaders are customarily paid on the last day of the month. Munger noted that her office will still process the vouchers monthly, but the warrants will then wait in a queue with other payments before being released when cash is available.
State payments are delayed a minimum of two months, unless they are expedited due to severe hardship. That wait time is expected to grow in lower-revenue months in the summer and fall.
“It is the right thing to do,” Munger said. “And if this action helps bring all sides together to pass a balanced budget and end this unnecessary and devastating hardship to our state, that is an added benefit.
“Illinois needs a balanced budget. It is well past time that we get it done.”