Gov. Bruce Rauner criticized Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s plan Thursday to halt state workers’ pay, pushing legislation that would ensure payment regardless of Illinois' ongoing budget impasse.
“As you know, Attorney General Madigan is going into court asking a judge to end state employee pay,” Rauner said in a video posted to YouTube. “The Attorney General now believes the state should be shut down until a budget is passed. We do not agree.”
Last month, Madigan filed a motion in St. Clair County Circuit that seeks to dissolve a preliminary injunction that allowed state workers to be paid during the state’s ongoing budget stalemate. Madigan explained her reasoning in a State-Journal Register op-ed Sunday.
“The lack of progress on a state budget has been aided by a St. Clair County Court’s order allowing the state to continue to pay employees without an enacted appropriations by law,” Madigan wrote. "By removing the threat of a government shutdown, there has been little agency to force action by the governor and the legislature.”
Rauner noted Thursday that a pair of proposals have been presented to address the issue. He supports a plan put forth by Illinois House Republican Avery Bourne that would pay state employees “on a continual basis regardless of the budget impasse,” much like lawmakers and constitutional officers. Republican state Reps. Terri Bryant, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Sara Wojcicki Jimenez and Democratic state Rep. Jerry Costello II have joined the bill as co-sponsors.
Rauner claimed the other plan, put forth by House Speaker Michael Madigan, the father of Attorney General Madigan, would “stop employee pay and shut down the government on June 30 instead.”
“Speaker Madigan will try to sell his June 30 government shut down proposal as a solution in case his daughter wins in court,” Rauner said. “But don’t be fooled. It’s not a solution — it’s a crisis showdown set for June 30 when the Speaker will use the leverage of a forced shut down to finally get the massive tax hike he recommended in December 2015.”
“There’s only one solution that makes sense: give state employees the same rights as the Speaker, rank-and-file legislators and the Attorney General herself,” he added.
Rauner noted that he plans to “shut down” Madigan’s proposal if it crosses his desk.
“I don’t take a paycheck — never have, never will, but I believe state employees who show up to work every day for the people of Illinois should get their paychecks no matter what,” he said.
The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31, Illinois' largest public employee union, said Rauner is trying to “mislead” state workers Thursday, claiming that legislators are being paid six months late due to the governor’s “refusal to do his job and sign a budget.”
“The governor caused this crisis by holding the budget hostage to his political demands,” the union said in a statement. “Next week he’s due to present a spending plan for fiscal year 2018. If he introduces a budget, helps pass it and signs it into law on schedule this spring, this entire conversation is moot.”
“Instead Rauner says he’d veto a payroll bill, an action that could shut down state government,” AFSCME added.
The union, which is currently voting to authorize a strike if they can’t agree with Rauner on a new contract, supports legislation put forth by House Democrat Sue Scherer. The measure would ensure that appropriations are made to pay state employees through the end of the current fiscal year.
“In contrast, the governor’s threat to veto a bill not sponsored by his partisan political allies follows a familiar pattern: Rauner makes a demand, refuses to compromise, and bullies those who disagree,” AFSCME said. “If he wants to make progress, the governor should negotiate, not dictate, both in developing a fully-funded budget and reaching a fair contract for state employees."