Last week, state Rep. Robert Martwick claimed that, by delaying paychecks to state lawmakers, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger are engaging in “extortion and corruption.”
In a Friday Facebook post, Martwick cited a news report about Rep. Jaime Andrade, who started driving Uber to supplement his income as Illinois’ budget woes continue to delay paychecks for elected officials.
“Offering a financial incentive to an elected official to secure their vote on a subject is corruption,” Martwick wrote. “If you do that, you will go to jail. Withholding pay in order to force a vote is no different.”
Martwick, a Democrat, claimed the state’s budget impasse has been about “one side wanting to impose profound change to our system.” Additionally he insisted that the one side is "trying to force the other side to do it against the wishes of the people they represent.”
The 19th district representative, who has served in the General Assembly since 2013, praised Andrade in his post, calling him “an extremely effective, smart and hard working representative.”
“He has an understanding of the legislative process that is unparalleled,” Martwick wrote. “By denying him pay, Leslie Geissler Munger and Bruce Rauner are trying, and succeeding, at putting him in a very difficult financial decision. That is extortion and corruption. Plain and simple.”
Rich Carter, spokesman for Munger’s office, told NBC 5's Ward Room that the pay delay not only impacts elected officials, but also the comptroller herself and other Constitutional officers. Carter also said Munger isn’t “denying” payment.
"It's a matter of fairness," Carter said. "The comptroller is putting state elected officials - including herself - in line with the other organizations who provide services to the state, including human service agencies, hospitals, and small business owners. As a result, elected officials get paid at the same time as other organizations doing business with the state."
"Because of the state's nearly $8 billion bill backlog, those payments are currently 51 working days in arrears," he added.
Last week, Carter told Ward Room that paychecks are cut in the order they are received, with the exception of certain court orders for things like payroll payments to state employees. He noted that payment “depends on the amount of revenue.”
Lawmakers received their last paychecks in July. Those checks were for the month of April. Last week, Carter referred to Munger’s recent estimate that paychecks for June would likely be sent out in mid-late August.
Andrade said it was “only fair” that legislators’ pay was “delayed like everyone else’s” and voiced concerns for victims of the state’s budget stalemate, like laid off social service workers.
He claimed that he doesn’t blame Rauner for the delay, saying the governor “has bigger stuff to worry about.”
However, the state lawmaker claimed the decision to delay lawmakers’ paychecks is a political move by Munger, who was appointed by Rauner and is up for re-election in the fall. He said the delay has had “zero effect of moving to needle” on legislative action in Springfield.
In his Facebook post, Martwick noted that “politicians in Illinois are not very popular" and claimed that he has been told repeatedly that he should work for free.
“Of course if we did that, then the only people who could serve would be people like Rauner, [House Speaker Mike] Madigan, [Senate President John] Cullerton, and me,” he wrote. “Shouldn’t everyone have the opportunity to serve?”
Gov. Rauner’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.