Judge sides with lawmakers

Judge sides with lawmakers

Update: 9:22 pm SPRINGFIELD -- The Comptroller says she is already processing paychecks for lawmakers.
Update: 9:22 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- The Comptroller says she is already processing paychecks for lawmakers. The move comes after a judge said lawmakers should get paid. The judge also said Governor Quinn violated the state Constitution by stripping the General Assembly's pay.

Quinn says he will appeal the ruling, and even try to get a stay to stop those paychecks. The ruling says he did not have the authority to change lawmakers' pay during their terms. Now, the judge is ordering them to be paid every penny they are owed.

"Right now, this is my only source of income, so when something like this happens, it certainly makes you glad you planned for a rainy day," said Petersburg Representative Rich Brauer (R).

But his rainy day may be clearing. A Cook County judge sided with lawmakers, saying Governor Quinn did not have the authority to keep lawmakers' paychecks.

Brauer said, "It was an unprecedented attack on, really, the Constitution for the governor to go out and be able to really kind of dictate policy by withholding legislators' pay."

The judge agreed it was against the Constitution, specifically a part that says you can not change an elected official's pay midway through their term. So, he ordered the state to pay up.

Members of the General Assembly have missed two of their monthly paychecks. At a base salary of about $67,000, it adds up to about $11,000 in missed pay for each member. Plus, the judge ordered interest paid on that amount.

But legislators like Brauer say the point of the lawsuit was not money. They just do not want this to become a bargaining chip down the road.

"It's just a distraction. There's a lot of people who it's not going to change their vote just because the governor's holding back their pay. I mean, everybody that I know,  they've gone to work every day. They've done their job."

Again, there is still a fight. No word when the governor might file an appeal, but he wants to do it soon to try to stop those checks. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says she is already processing them, per the judge's order.

Political experts say the battle over pay was a boost for Governor Quinn's campaign. People around the state agreed with his move.

It gave him a bit of a boost at the polls. Political experts say, even though he lost in court Thursday, the more he fights, the more it could help him.

Quinn is the only democrat in the race for governor right now. He likely won't face competition until republicans pick a candidate in March.
Original: 5:45 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers will get their paychecks after all. A judge ruled Thursday that Governor Quinn's move to suspend their pay was unconstitutional. He said he did it to motivate lawmakers to pass pension reform.

The judge has ordered the Comptroller to pay lawmakers the two paychecks they have missed, plus interest. Governor Quinn says he will appeal.
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