Illinois state workers’ paychecks to go out as court fight continues

By Kim Geiger, Chicago Tribune

Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger is forging ahead with plans to send out full paychecks to state workers Wednesday, despite an ongoing court battle over whether – and how much – public employees can be paid while state government operates without a budget.

Checks will go out to 6,800 employees who are due to be paid Wednesday for work performed in the first two weeks of the state’s budget year. Others in Illinois’ roughly 60,000-person state government workforce are on different pay schedules, and their checks aren’t due until later this month.

As Munger presses on with payroll, Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Monday asked the Illinois Supreme Court to weigh in after Chicago and Downstate judges handed out competing rulings on the matter last week.


Munger spokesman Rich Carter said the comptroller’s office views a Thursday ruling in St. Clair County to have cleared the way for paychecks to go out. That Downstate judge ruled in favor of 13 unions representing state employees who argued that not paying workers would be a breach of their collective bargaining agreements.

The decision contradicted an earlier order from a Cook County judge who said Munger should pay workers only the $7.25-per-hour federal minimum wage until Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly can agree on a spending plan for state government.

In that case, Madigan’s office had argued that the state should comply with federal labor laws during the budget impasse but does not have the authority to spend beyond that without a budget in place. The Cook judge agreed with Madigan, who is the daughter of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, Rauner’s chief opponent in the budget battle at the Capitol.

Rauner, Munger and the unions appealed the Cook County decision, while Lisa Madigan appealed the St. Clair court’s ruling. On Monday, Madigan asked the state’s high court to take up both cases.