Payday for Illinois Lawmakers - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Payday for Illinois Lawmakers


Illinois lawmakers are getting paid once again, several weeks after Governor Quinn suspended their paychecks over lack of progress on pension reform.

On Thursday, a judge ruled that Illinois lawmakers pay should be reinstated. Then, on Friday, that judge rejected the governor's request for a stay while he continues to appeal that decision.

Lawmakers paychecks were printed and sent out on Friday, making it the first payday for legislators since the governor used his line-item veto power to stop their paychecks back in July.

Lawmakers are getting all their back pay for August and September plus interest.

State Representative Mike Smiddy (D - Port Byron) says he's just glad the days of with holding pay are finally past.

"It was really taking the focus off the main issue that we've been trying to work on this past legislative session and that is pension reform," he said.

That was the whole reason Governor Quinn moved to stop lawmakers paychecks in the first place -- The state is facing a 100 billion dollar pension crisis, and the governor says if lawmakers can't fix that, they shouldn't get paid.

He says most taxpayers agree with him. And most taxpayers we spoke to did:

"I mean, the thing is, in order to get these folks to solve this problem, something has to be done, right? So what other options does he have?" said one Illinois resident, Kevin Klute, about the governor's decision to withhold lawmakers' pay.

"I thought that was a very good catalyst to force them to get that under control," agreed Scott Sidor, another Illinois resident.

But, Smiddy says making the issue of pension reform about lawmakers personal finances was a political move -- and a distraction the state could have done without.

"Of course missing a paycheck will affect a household," he said. "But, I really don't want the focus to be on what I'm going through, because I tell you, there are a lot of other Illinois families that are going through this not just on a temporary basis."

He says that's why passing pension reform is so important -- It is critical for improving the state's economy.

And, he says, the consequences of inaction are enough motivation for most lawmakers to try to work toward a solution. Their paychecks are simply not the priority.

Illinois lawmakers head back to Springfield for the veto session beginning October 22nd.

Smiddy says he's hopeful they'll have pension reform legislation to consider then.

Meanwhile, Governor Quinn says he will continue to not accept a paycheck.

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