Lawmakers to put own paychecks on the line?

Published 03/22 2013 05:41PM

Updated 03/22 2013 05:59PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Every year, lawmakers have to set a new state budget, but the last few have buried the state in debt. Now, there's a new idea aimed at balancing the budget. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels finds out about the idea to change the state constitution.

They say that's the only way to hold lawmakers accountable to make a balanced budget. It's already in our state constitution, but they say it's not strong enough.

"We have an obligation in the General Assembly to do our constitutional responsibility. That means passing a balanced budget. Other states do it. Why can't Illinois?"

In the past few years, Illinois has racked up nearly $9 billion in unpaid bills because the state spends more money than it brings in. It's something lawmakers want to change.

"The public is much better served with us being responsible adults and passing a balanced budget than this fictitious stuff we've been doing for the last several years saying it's balanced, knowing it's not and not paying our bills."

Under the plan, the auditor general would have to okay the budget.

"It takes it out of the hands of the folks who try to spin things and it puts it into an independent entity that can truly look at the numbers and say it is or it isn't."

If it isn't, the comptroller will freeze all state payments, except for things like public safety and schools. That means, no paychecks for lawmakers, the governor or some state workers.

"What we're trying to do now is force Illinois to be the big business it is instead of the political entity it has become."

The money would stay locked until lawmaker fixed it. It's a measure they say is drastic, but could be the safety-net the state needs to get back on track.

"We go into overtime, we still get paid. We still sit here and try and hope for the best, but if we have skin in the game, hopefully, that will make us act."

Some worry this plan is dead on arrival though because it's up to the democrats, who have a majority, to decide if it even gets a shot in the capitol. Then, voters would have to approve it.

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