AG Madigan Defends Motion to Halt State Workers’ Pay

"By removing the threat of a government shutdown, there has been little agency to force action by the governor and the legislature," Madigan wrote.

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AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan explained her reasoning Sunday for filing a court motion that would block state employees from getting paid.

The motion, filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court last month, seeks to dissolve a preliminary injunction that allowed state workers to be paid during the budget impasse.

“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 law,” Madigan wrote in a State Journal-Register op-ed. "By removing the threat of a government shutdown, there has been little urgency to force action by the governor and the legislature.”

Madigan noted that the state has paid for certain operations without any “legislative authority or fiscal check.”

“No other state or the federal government has gone without a spending plan for so long, precisely because the devastating possibility of a government shutdown forces the executive and legislative branches to compromise,” she added.

During the state’s ongoing budget crisis, Madigan explained, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling that “directly impacts the state’s ability to pay for operations without a budget.” She claimed the court’s decision overruled the legal basis for the St. Clair County Court’s initial order.

“Based on that ruling, I filed a motion in St. Clair County Court to uphold the Illinois Constitution,” Madigan said. “Enacting a budget is a basic function of our state government and must be addressed.”

“As attorney general, my goal is always to allow the executive and legislative branches of government to do their jobs without legal intervention,” she added.

Madigan said she was hopeful that Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois legislature would be able to enact a full budget before the state’s stopgap funding plan expired at the end of last year.

The attorney general expressed the state’s “urgent need to enact a budget,” noting that she has asked the court to make it clear that any future spending plan must provide the explicit authority to pay state workers. Additionally, Madigan has recommended that the court “provide additional time to put the budget in place to avoid undeserved hardship to state employees.”

“The governor and legislature can resolve this situation at any time, and they have had a year and a half to do that,” Madigan said. “To be sure, there have been signs of progress, but there also have been repeated setbacks.”

“This court filing should give the budget process the momentum it needs. By asking the court to uphold the Constitution, we will finally solve this destructive crisis - not create one,” she added.

Madigan, who is the daughter of House Speaker Michael Madigan, was recently added to the Illinois Republican Party’s “Boss Madigan” website. The site attacks Speaker Madigan’s “web of influence” over members of the Democratic Party of Illinois. The speaker currently serves as the party chairman.

On the site, Illinois GOP claims “no one's benefitted more from Mike Madigan’s political machine than Lisa Madigan.”

“Mike helped jumpstart Lisa’s political career when she was just 32 years old and got elevated to the state senate,” the site reads. “Just four years later, he helped make her Attorney General. She’s now been the state’s top prosecutor for more than a dozen years.”

The “Boss Madigan” site specifically targets Attorney General Madigan’s recent court motion.

“Her action could force a major crisis of state government and hurt thousands of Illinois families,” the site reads. “With a government shutdown, the lives and livelihoods of those who rely on and provide vital government services would be in danger.”

“Not surprisingly, this is the exact type of crisis Mike Madigan wants."

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