By Jacob Huebert -
In July, Gov. Pat Quinn used his line-item veto power to suspend Illinois legislators’ salaries, pledging to withhold their paychecks until they solved the state’s pension crisis. This predictably provoked a lawsuit by House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and other legislators. A Cook County Circuit Court judge then ruled in September that Quinn’s move violated the provision of the Illinois Constitution that prohibits changes to legislators’ salaries during their terms.
At the time, we pointed out that Quinn’s stunt accomplished nothing and would end up benefiting no one but the lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit – at taxpayer expense. The legislators’ lawyers included Chicago attorney Richard Prendergast, who has donated thousands of dollars to Cullerton’s election campaign committee, and Kevin Forde and Michael Kasper, who have made political donations to Madigan.
How does Quinn defend this waste of nearly $250,000 taxpayer dollars? His spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, told the Tribuneit was worth it because it “got the job done” when the Illinois General Assembly passed a pension bill in December.
But that’s nonsense. The bill is not meaningful pension reform and will not solve Illinois’ pension crisis. And, in any event, the General Assembly passed the bill months after Quinn lost his lawsuit and their pay had been restored.
Illinois’ culture of corruption is hurting taxpayers. Unfortunately, it’s a story we see again and again: politicians’ pals get paid; officeholders congratulate themselves for doing bad things; dire problems go unsolved; and taxpayers foot the bill.
Jacob Heubert is Senior Attorney at the Liberty Justice Center