No monthly pay for Illinois lawmakers on Aug. 1 -Comptroller
CHICAGO, July 25
CHICAGO, July 25 (Reuters) - Illinois lawmakers will not get paid on Aug. 1 after Democratic Governor Pat Quinn refused to approve their monthly compensation because they failed to reach a deal to clean up the state's dismal finances, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said on Thursday.
"This is no way to run government," Topinka, a Republican, said at a news conference, adding that she had no authority to pay lawmakers over the objections of the governor.
"Threats, blackmail and inertia may be good theater, but it makes us look ridiculous and takes away from our ability to get things done," Topinka said.
Quinn on July 10 vetoed the money for lawmakers' $68,000-a-year pay to spur the Democrat-controlled legislature to reach a solution to the state's $100 billion unfunded public pension liability.
A panel of lawmakers created by the legislature on June 19 has been negotiating but has not yet come up with a plan.
Quinn, who is also forgoing his paycheck, praised Topinka's announcement.
"Pension reform is the most urgent priority facing the state of Illinois," the Democrat said in a statement on Thursday. "Nobody should be paid until the job gets done for taxpayers."
The lack of action to fix the worst-funded state pension system has pushed Illinois' credit ratings to the lowest level among states. Rising pension payments have led to spending cuts affecting core state services such as education.
Illinois also has a huge backlog of unpaid bills, which totaled $6.8 billion on Thursday, according to Topinka, who predicted the bill pile will grow to about $9 billion in December.