Tuesday, July 30, 2013

EXTRA: It’s now in the courts!

A Cook County judge is going to be asked to decide whether or not Gov. Pat Quinn overstepped his bounds when he decided to not pay legislators until they come up with a plan for revamping the way the state covers the cost of pension programs.

MADIGAN: Using his clout against Quinn
The lawsuit filed in our own circuit court system was filed by the legislative leaders (House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton) on Tuesday. They claim that the concept of “separation of powers” means that a governor doesn’t have the right to mess with the Legislature’s compensation.

AS THOUGH HIS authority merely extends to the state agencies. Or perhaps solely to the people who actually work on the governor’s staff.

CULLERTON: A legal sidekick
Which means this whole issue is going to become a legal battle over exactly who has to pay any attention to a governor. If it were up to the legislative leaders, that would be “zero.”

They’d want to have no one listening to him.

How else to interpret the line from the lawsuit that says, “If the governor’s line item veto is upheld, the independence of each member of the General Assembly will be forever compromised. Any governor will hold a trump card over a co-equal branch of government.”

IT IS INTERESTING that Madigan and Cullerton are the ones putting their names on this lawsuit. I guess it figures that enough people already despise the concept of Mike Madigan that his reputation can’t take a harder hit by being the “bad guy” who files a lawsuit to get paid without resolving the pension funding problem.

So to ensure that officials actually get paid (state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has said she’d cut the checks if a court told her to do so), this now becomes a legal issue. Even though I'm inclined to agree with Quinn when he says, "today's lawsuit ... is just plain wrong,"

QUINN: Another battle to undergo
Although I won’t be surprised if a local judge winds up ruling in Madigan’s favor. As an attorney, he has some serious clout in Chicago. The real trick will be to see how high up the legal ladder this case winds up going. Is the Illinois Supreme Court destined to have to take up this issue later this summer?

Then, there’s the real question; the one that will get lost in all the upcoming legal bickering that we’re going to hear – when will the pension funding problem be resolved? The two sides aren’t anywhere near close to doing that!


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