SPRINGFIELD – In response to the recent court ruling authorizing the prioritization of state legislators’ pay over other outstanding obligations, State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) filed legislation last week, House Bill 4026, to give the Comptroller greater discretion when issuing salary payments for members of the General Assembly.
Batinick said this would allow the Comptroller to prioritize Illinois’ other fiscal obligations over legislators’ and Executive Branch officers’ pay. House Bill 4026 is co-sponsored by Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee). The bill follows the introduction of similar legislation filed in the State Senate by Senator Dan McConchie, SB 989.
“There is no reason why we as legislators should be prioritized over the hundreds of vendors, social service providers and agencies who have been waiting months for payment from the state,” said Rep. Batinick. “This bill seeks to right that wrong by allowing the Comptroller to place the interests of vulnerable children, seniors and families ahead of legislators.”
"Yesterday's ruling showed a major flaw in Illinois law," said Rep. Skillicorn, Chief Co-Sponsor of the legislation. "We need to amend the law immediately to put taxpayers and social services before legislators who refuse to pass a budget with any cuts. The fact is, if the political will to make tough choices existed, we could pass a constitutionally required balanced budget in a few days."
Last spring, former Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger opted to place legislators’ paychecks in line with the other overdue bills, as the state struggled to meet its obligations due to the ongoing budget impasse. In December, a lawsuit was filed by six legislators, arguing for their legislative pay to be prioritized ahead of hospitals, human services organizations and universities that are also waiting for payments from the state.
Thursday, the Cook County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the six legislators, citing Illinois law, which provides a continuing appropriation for legislative salaries. In response, Rep. Batinick’s bill seeks to specifically authorize the Comptroller to delay salary payments to legislators and Executive Branch Constitutional Officers.
Under this proposed legislation, the monthly salary payment to legislators may be delayed if there are insufficient funds in the state’s General Revenue Fund to pay all other obligations within 90 days after a voucher requesting payment is submitted to the Comptroller.
Thus far, Republican House members David McSweeney, Tom Morrison and Ryan Spain have joined Batinick and Skillicorn's effort as co-sponsors. The bill has not been assigned to committee for consideration.