SPRINGFIELD - Thursday, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion in St. Clair County courts to stop state employee paychecks until the state passes a budget. If the court rules in Madigan's favor, state government would effectively shut down, aggravating bi-partisan talks that are moving towards a compromise, critics are saying.
Responses began coming in Friday morning from state lawmakers and state employee unions.
State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) says Madigan's move is "blatantly political, dangerous, and confusing."
"This interference by yet another Constitutional officer in the budget process is blatantly political and seeks to unnecessarily blow-up ongoing negotiations," Bryant said. "The Senate went home this week following committee hearings on a possible budget deal to hear from their constituents. Pieces are starting to move to get to a compromise and a balanced budget. So, the timing of the Attorney General's attempt to stop state employee paychecks is as dangerous as it is puzzling."
"I'm for state employees receiving their paychecks on time and in full," Bryant said. "At one time, so was Lisa Madigan. We need to take steps to ratchet down the crisis we're facing. This step by the Attorney General is unnecessary and provocative."
SEIU President Keith Kelleher said the public sector employee union is also opposed to dragging state employees into the budget standoff between Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner.
“On behalf of our home healthcare and child care workers who have collective bargaining agreements with the State of Illinois and provide vital care for 30,000 people with disabilities and 61,000 children, we obviously oppose any efforts to stop payments or efforts that delay payments to our workforce, who struggle to get by as it is," Kelleher said.
Then he turned his angst towards the governor, who he said ran on the idea of shutting down the government.
“Bruce Rauner never will know the real pain that is endured by those he causes to suffer. But he has welcomed it in a shameful fashion by abandoning his constitutional duty to present a balanced budget to the General Assembly. Instead he has held Illinois hostage to his political wish list. The Attorney General’s action is a symptom. This governor is its cause," Kelleher said.
“We call on Rauner to present a budget that funds vital services for the most vulnerable in our state.”
Attorney General Madigan's effort to pause employee paychecks will work to pressure the governor and her father, House Speaker Mike Madigan, to come to an agreement on a budget and end an 18 month stalemate.