State Workers Getting Paid, Despite Budget Impasse

Jul 13, 2015

Leslie Munger
Credit Illinois Comptroller website

Despite uncertainty bred from dueling court rulings ... Illinois' Comptroller is issuing paychecks to state employees.  It's a continued issue, as Illinois has been without a spending plan since the start of the month.

First, a Cook County judge said that without a state budget, Illinois lacks authority to pay all of its employees. An appellate court actually stayed that decision.

Then came a ruling from a St. Clair County judge, who says not paying union workers would be a breach of contract.

A different legal question, a different judge  ... a different -- and opposite -- outcome.

Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger says that's her cue to issue paychecks.

Her office confirms that it has finished processing the first round of payroll, for around 6,800 employees, who'll paid by Wednesday.

Some workers say they've already seen deposits show up in their bank accounts.

But government employees may not want to go on a spending spree just yet: further court action is possible, and there are few signs of the budget stalemate thawing.

The comptroller's office wasn't immediately available for comment, nor was the attorney general's.

The payroll processing could take pressure off of Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who appointed Munger, to sign a temporary, one-month budget should the Senate approve it this week.  The measure originally would have funded only essentially services, but the House last week added a provision that would ensure workers get paid through July.  That had the potential to put Rauner in a tricky spot politically: he had said he would not sign a stopgap spending plan, but insisted he'd do all he could to make sure workers got paid.

UPDATE: The Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking for a direct appeal of the matter to the state supreme court.  Madigan cites conflicting lower court rulings as the reason.