Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan last week filed a motion to freeze state workers salaries until the legislature and Governor Bruce Rauner produced a state budget.
In response to Madigan’s filing, State Representative C.D. Davidameyer and his colleagues introduced a bill on Thursday that would ensure state worker would in fact continue to receive their paychecks.
Davidsmeyer filed similar bill back in 2015 under similar circumstances, but clarifies the specific goals of this current bill.
“It’s similar to the one I filed back in 2015 when there was a threat that state employees would not get paid and state services would basically come to a halt. The one that I filed was a continuing appropriation for the budget year, so it would expire at the end of the budget year. The goal here is to make sure that during this budget crisis, we don’t cause further damage to what’s going on,” says Davidsmeyer.
He explains that the difference between his 2015 bill and this year’s bill is the involvement from Democrats.
“I filed that bill in 2015. The difference today is that Democrats have followed suit. Back in 2015 they did not file a bill to pay state employees, but this year they did. I would assume that the Democrat version will move and at the end of the day, it’s not a Republican or a Democrat problem, so I’ll support whatever bill moves,” Davidsmeyer says.
Davidsmeyer explains that this bill, if passed, would make Madigan’s filing null and void, and says it’s not fair for the state workers to placed in the middle of this political squabble.
“Everybody talks about the General Assembly is on a continuing appropriation, so technically we’re still supposed to be getting paid. (State workers) are going to their jobs, they’re doing their jobs, they should be getting paid too. We need to get this figured out and stop putting (state workers) in the middle of this political argument,” Davidsmeyer explains.
Since Madigan’s filing was made with the hopes of pressuring lawmakers into coming up with a state budget, Davidsmeyer says he’s concerned about this becoming a battle of wills rather than meeting this added pressure.
“My concern is that it could be a battle of wills as opposed to meeting this additional pressure. If the people at the top are not willing to come up with a budget with the current pressures, I’m not sure if they’re willing to come up with a budget with additional pressures. I don’t know that this would add to our ability to pass a budget. It may be an effort to force a large, unbalanced budget, as opposed to coming up with real solutions,” says Davidsmeyer.
Davidsmeyer says since the General Assembly is required by federal law, by state law and by court orders to provide certain services. If state workers are not there to provide those services, Davidsmeyer says it could turn into a major issue with the federal government possibly stepping in.
As for when anything could actually happen, the House could vote on the bill Wednesday, a week prior to Madigan’s motion hearing.