No Work, No Pay In Illinois

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have no money

Oh, that great state of Illinois, the land of Lincoln. You make us all proud today. We're especially proud of your Comptroller Judy Topinka.

Judy Topinka

Here's the background, from Tammy Webber as reported by the Associated Press.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Thursday that she has no choice but to withhold lawmakers' paychecks, citing a precedent-setting court case that bars her from paying state employees without a budget appropriation or court order.

Gov. Pat Quinn cut $13.8 million for legislators' paychecks from a budget bill earlier this month, saying it wouldn't be restored until lawmakers addressed the state's $97 billion pension shortfall. He also suspended his own pay.

"It is my deep hope that this matter is resolved expeditiously," either by a court or by lawmakers agreeing on a solution to the pension crisis, said Topinka, who undertook a legal review to determine if Quinn's actions were constitutional.

Oh, how lovely it would be if this sort of gentle nudge (though the lawmakers call it extortion) would be put upon a number of other public elected officials. Then watch how quickly they move. You're going to see land speed records set for passing a pension protection bill in the Illinois house. August 1 is the next due date for a legislative payment. Who doesn't think that within ten days they have a bill, it's voted on, passed and signed?

A provision of the Illinois Constitution says changes in lawmaker salary should not take effect during the term in which they were elected. But Quinn cited the prior court ruling and said he isn't changing their salary, just withholding the money to pay it.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat who used his line-item veto power in a budget bill to suspend the pay as a way to spur lawmakers to action, issued a statement saying Topinka came to the right conclusion and reiterating his vow to hold fast on his decision.

"Nobody should be paid until the job gets done for taxpayers," Quinn said.

Perhaps if we could get an executive decision by Obama, not to change congressional salaries, but just not fund the account that the moneys are paid from, maybe we wouldn't have so much gridlock. Maybe there is a legal way around this time-wasting that the GOP is so fond of. They want to be obstructionists? Let them. Just don't collect a viable check while doing it.

Kind of makes you think, doesn't it?

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