Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Will workers get paid? Will legislators vote to override? Or will Wednesday be a whole lot of nothin’ in Springpatch?

Why do I suspect that employees of Illinois state government all will be anxiously checking out their bank accounts sometime Wednesday around mid-day.

Because for those workers who get their salaries deposited directly into their bank accounts, that’s usually about the time the money shows up so they can then withdraw it for use to pay whatever personal expenses they may have.

THIS PARTICULAR PAYDAY is unique because it is the first during which the current political spat between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly’s leaders will have an impact.

There is no budget in place for state government, which theoretically means no money can be spent by state government.

Not even for the payroll for the workers who provide the services that we rely upon for state government.

Of course, we have the dueling court rulings.

A COOK COUNTY judge ruled that no budget means no payroll. Whereas a St. Clair County (as in suburban St. Louis) judge says payroll can be met because the state has contractual obligations to its workers that must be fulfilled.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger has made it clear she wants to make the payroll and is prepared to ignore that pesky Cook County judge. She’ll go along with the court whose ruling will reduce the likelihood of her boss (Rauner) looking bad for having unpaid state workers.

But Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan this week filed a request with the Supreme Court of Illinois, basically asking them to take the two dueling rulings and figure out which one actually interprets the law correctly.

It’s always possible that the state’s high court could come in with an early morning decision that could pre-empt any desire by the Rauner people to pay state workers in order to keep them appeased while Rauner and the Legislature’s leadership fight it out amongst themselves for control of state government.

WHICH IS REALLY what this particular budget fight is all about. The two sides aren’t even talking about the budget. It’s about Rauner wanting to impose measures meant to undermine organized labor and the unions that represent state employees.

That is something Rauner’s corporate-type buddies desperately want, because they’re really not adept in figuring out how to grow a business into something profitable.

Their idea of success is to view expenses as money that rightfully should be profit! If only those damned employees would just be grateful for whatever they’re offered by corporate types, then we’d all be better off.

Or at least that’s what the corporate types think amongst themselves.

THAT IS WHY I find it ironic that Rauner types are relying on contractual obligations to labor unions as their reason to prevail. Those are the same types of contracts they’d just as soon undermine and view as the source of all evil within state government.

We’ll have to see how things turn out on Wednesday; not only with whether or not state employees get paid but also what the Legislature tries to do.

In theory, the Legislature could try to override the governor’s veto of the budget. Although whether their veto-proof majority would actually unite is questionable. No matter what Republicans say, it is their political party that is more likely to be in lock-step unity as opposed to Democrats who often can’t agree on what to order for lunch, let alone pull off a political maneuver of any consequence.

Besides, passing that budget would merely put state government seriously in arears as it calls for spending that state officials know they don’t have the income to support. Plugging that hole would be an ongoing problem and the political brawl would continue unabated.


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