For Lawmakers, The Check Is On The Way

Jul 4, 2016

Credit The State Legislative Leaders Foundation

Illinois legislators haven’t been paid in months, but that’s about to change.

Legislators get a base salary of about $5,600 a month. Or they did. A few months ago, Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that lawmakers’ paychecks would get placed in a cue, along with the rest of the state’s bills. It can take a while to make it to the front of the line because Illinois doesn’t have money to pay all of its bills; it’s a persistent problem that’s been exacerbated by the budget impasse.

“I know this is something that many of us think is taboo, we shouldn’t say,” Senator Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, said anyway, during last week’s debate that led to a temporary spending plan. .

Lightford says Comptroller Leslie Munger, a Republican appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is playing a political game with the paychecks. .

“I hope the work that we’re doing today would allow us an opportunity to continue to take care of our own homes. And I’m hoping the comptroller would decide and recognize that we’re not vendors, that we’re actually employees of this body and we deserve to be paid.”

And they will.

Not necessarily because of the budget.

A spokesman from the Comptroller’s office, Rich Carter, says lawmakers’ April paychecks are nearly at the top of the stack, so they should get paid early this week.

No decision had been made about changing policy to get legislators their money for May, or June.

He says the office is figuring out how the stopgap budget will affect its payouts. Now that the Comptroller's office has authorization to pay certain bill, it has to wait for vouchers to arrive before they can be processed. Some may be added to the bottom of the backlog. Others will be paid out of special funds, and go out right away. Other bills that are to be paid out from special funds will have to wait for a balance to accumulate.