A group of Illinois representatives have filed a lawsuit looking to end a divisive policy pushed by Republican leaders that withholds state government paycheck until other bills are paid.
According to the group bringing the suit, the effort looks to “end unwarranted political pressure being brought by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Comptroller Leslie Munger." That group includes state Reps. Emanuel Chris Welch, Kate Cloonen, Mary Flowers, Sonya Haper, Lisa Hernandez and Silvana Tabares.
“The decision by multimillionaire Comptroller Leslie munger and billionaire Gov. Bruce Rauner was a thinly veiled attempt to force their political opponents into taking positions in support of the governor’s positions and against the beliefs of their constituents,” Welch said in a statement. “Many lawmakers don’t have the multimillion dollar side incomes the governor and comptroller enjoy.”
Munger, who was appointed comptroller by Rauner in 2015, announced in April that lawmakers would have to wait in line to receive paychecks with other state vendors. The policy was framed as an incentive for legislators to pass a full, balanced budget.
On Friday, the final day of Munger's administration, she slammed the lawmakers bringing suit against her.
"How cowardly that they refused to challenge any action while I was in office and now they're going to court when there will be a new administration taking office Monday led by one of their own," the comptroller told reporters.
"There are just no words for my disgust and disappointment in this lawsuit," she added.
During Friday's press conference, Munger outlined Illinois' dire fiscal situation, pointing to the state's $10.3 billion bill backlog. She explained that some state vendors have been waiting six or more months for payment, arguing that lawmakers shouldn't be given priority to be paid first.
"If these lawmakers spent as much time and energy working on passing a balanced, comprehensive budget as they have on filing lawsuits and getting their own pay, Illinois would be in a much better place," she said.
Munger also shared a direct message to Comptroller-elect Susana Mendoza Friday.
"It is my sincere hope that although Comptroller-elect Susana Mendoza has spent a decade in the General Assembly herself, she will live up to her campaign promise, do the right thing and vigorously defend the right of the state comptroller to fund critical services for the state and not to give preferential treatment to politicians."
After speaking to the Illinois Manufacturers' Association in Chicago Friday, Rauner said he was "amazed" by the suit.
"The legislators are insisting that even though they're not doing their jobs passing budgets and reforms, they wanna get paid," Rauner told reporters.
"I hope that Comptroller Mendoza stands firm on this," he added. "No budget, no pay."
During her recent, unsuccessful campaign to hold onto her post, Munger proposed a “No Budget, No Pay” policy that would require a balanced budget to be passed in order for state lawmakers to be paid.
Comptroller-elect Susana Mendoza, who beat out Munger in the November election, announced last month that she will keep Munger’s policy that withholds state government paycheck until other bills are paid, Politico reported.