Illinois comptroller: Pay for governor, lawmakers to be delayed

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Photo Sources: Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) / Flickr --- WBEZ / Flickr

Lawmakers from the governor on down will start waiting for their paychecks like others whose payments from the state have been delayed due to the prolonged budget impasse, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said Sunday.

At a news conference, Munger said it isn't fair that members of the General Assembly and other statewide office holders — herself included — be paid on time each month when agencies, vendors and others are having to wait months for money they're owed or are having to slash programs or shut down due to the lack of funding.

"It is only appropriate that we all wait in line to receive payment," she said.

Munger said that although the roughly $1.3 million in total pay each month is a tiny fraction of the state's $7.8 billion bill backlog caused by the budget impasse that has stretched into its 10th month, it might help prevent layoffs at a non-profit agency, keep a community program afloat or help a small business get the state money it's owed more quickly.

She said she hopes her announcement will bring lawmakers together to pass a balanced budget.

"I'm hoping this will help everyone understand what it feels like really to be among the group of people who are waiting months for payment," she said.

Munger said that before taking this step, she consulted her legal staff to make sure she could do it. But she said she didn't discuss it with anyone else, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, a fellow Republican who appointed her comptroller last year after the death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.

Rauner's office and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton's office declined to comment. Speaker of the House Michael Madigan's office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

In a statement, Susana Mendoza, who is Chicago's city clerk and Munger's Democratic challenger in the upcoming election, criticized Munger's announcement as "10 months late and many dollars short" and chastized Munger for failing to demand that Rauner "end his extreme agenda and pass a budget."

The failure to pass a budget that should have taken effect last July 1 is the result of a standoff between Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly. The Democrats what Rauner to sign off on a tax increase, but Rauner wants them to agree to some "structural reforms," such as changes in collective bargaining. The Democrats refuse, saying that such changes would hurt working families.