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Six Illinois Democrats Sue Comptroller Over Legislative Pay Delay

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A group of Democratic state lawmakers are suing to get their paychecks more quickly. They've gone without compensation since May 31.

After nearly a year-and-a-half without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills.

Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislative pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

Democrats, like Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, from Hillside, say that's just a way to help push Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial agenda. And that, he says, is unconstitutional.

"The executive branch cannot ... coerce or use undue influence to pressure the legislative branch," Welch says.

But Munger says Welch and the other five Democrats named in the suit are putting themselves ahead of hospitals, schools, and human service contractors.

Munger says she's just treating politicians like everyone else owed money by the state of Illinois.

"We ended the month of October with just $10 million in cash available in the state to pay nearly $8 billion in bills," Munger says. "And yet these lawmakers are going to court now to ask that they receive preferential treatment and get paid first."

The lawsuit comes as Munger, a Republican appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner, is about to leave office.  She lost a special election to Democrat Susana Mendoza.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.