Exhausted with lawmakers’ inability to resolve Illinois’ pension liability, Gov. Pat Quinn has suspended their salaries and used his line-item veto to eliminate salaries from the fiscal 2014 budget.
Given that the average Illinois lawmaker collects $67,836 a year, the last ditch effort would save the state almost $14 million for the year. The plan also includes a suspension of the governor’s salary until a pension bill makes its way to his desk.
Quinn has asked legislators for months to save the state and warned that passivity and half-passed legislation was unacceptable by the Wednesday deadline. Concerned for the state’s credit, which holds the lowest rating of all U.S. states, Quinn created consequences for a seemingly uncaring General Assembly.
Senate President John Cullerton and Illinois Comptroller Judy Bear Topinka both shared a concern over the constitutionality of Quinn’s decision and argued that political grandstanding such as the governor’s should not inhibit a special committee from resolving pension troubles.
"The governor's actions raise a series of constitutional and procedural issues that have never been resolved by the courts," said state Attorney General Lisa Madigan regarding the constitutionality of Quinn’s decision.
House Speak Michael Madigan, who sponsored and passed a pension bill in the House this year, praised the governor for his efforts.
"The governor's decision follows my efforts, and I understand his frustration," Madigan said in a statement. "I am hopeful his strategy works."