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Ill. Legislative Leaders Sue Over Halted Lawmaker Paychecks

(via Flickr/jglazer75)
The Illinois Capitol building in Springfield, Ill. (via Flickr/jglazer75)

The leaders of the Illinois House and Senate are filing a lawsuit challenging Gov. Pat Quinn's halting lawmaker pay over the state's pension gridlock. 

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton called Quinn's action  "purely political and unconstitutional." All three men are Democrats.

Earlier this month, Quinn used his veto power to cut $13.8 million from the state budget that was intended for lawmaker's pay, saying it was meant to motivate them to solve the state's $100 billion pension crisis. The General Assembly failed to find a solution before adjourning in late May, and a committee studying the problem blew past a deadline Quinn had imposed. Last week, comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican, said without an appropriation or a court order, she could not write the paychecks.

In a written statement, the governor called Tuesday's lawsuit "just plain wrong."

"If legislators had put forth the same effort to draw up a pension reform agreement that they did in crafting this lawsuit, pension reform could have been done by now," Quinn's statement continued. "Instead of focusing on resolving the state's pension crisis - which is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a day - legislators have chosen to focus on their own paychecks and waste taxpayer time and money on this lawsuit."

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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