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Quinn Vetoes Lawmaker Salaries

Gov. Pat Quinn and his staffers had been asked repeatedly in recent days about what consequences lawmakers would face if they failed to pass pension reform by his deadline of July 9, the latest of several deadlines.

The governor kept quiet on the matter, but it was not a well-kept secret.
On Wednesday he did exactly as most lawmakers expected, and used a line-item veto to eliminate their salaries and stipends from the state budget.

"They cannot take time away and ignore this issue," Quinn said. "They must have that alarm bell ringing in their ears, and the best way to do that is hit them in the wallet."

Not surprisingly, Quinn's veto of lawmaker salaries hasn't been very popular with most lawmakers.

"It should be about pension reform and leadership," Sen. Sam McCann said. "It shouldn't be about gamesmanship, and playing games with people's lives."

"This is something you expect on a playground of a third-grader when the teacher wasn't looking," Rep. Rich Brauer said. "You know it's just a stunt, and it's unfortunate."

McCann said he understands the sentiment.

"This state is bankrupt, so who would pay the board of directors or a leadership team for that," McCann said. "So if the question is about who should get paid, I think Pat Quinn should return his salary for the last 10 years quite frankly."

Brauer doesn't see this move helping the process.

"Instead of coming down and working with us when we had the concealed carry, when we're talking about pensions, when we had the committee, and then to complain later that we don't get anything passed, and at the same time he hasn't participated," Brauer said.

Sen. Bill Brady is a member of the pension conference committee. He doesn't want to rush through a bad bill to meet a deadline, especially when they're so close.

"And we can't do our job properly, without the facts that we're gonna get next week, from the actuaries, who will score the reforms," Brady said. "And we'll meet next week on those reforms and scoring, and be able to make an informed decision."

There is still some question as to whether Quinn has the authority to act in this way.

Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office has requested a legal review of the veto.

According to a spokesman for her office, the Illinois Constitution says lawmaker salaries can't be reduced during their elected term.

But he adds that checks can't be written if there is no appropriation.