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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Court Will Decide If State Workers Get Paid During Budget Impasse

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

State employees can expect to get paychecks through July. That's for work performed before the new fiscal year began.

After that, will they get paid if a budget impasse continues? A court hearing this morning could help decide.

Talk to Illinois' Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, and it sounds simple. Without a budget, Illinois has lost much of its authority to spend money.

"In order for all employees to be paid their full amount of pay, a budget needs to be passed by the legislature and approved by the governor,” Madigan said.

But it's not that straightforward. Madigan says federal law requires certain state workers get paid the minimum wage, no matter what.

"It's my job as the lawyer for the state to ensure that to the greatest extent possible under the law, payments are made to fund critical government services,” Madigan said. “And so I believe that bringing this action will be the best approach to efficiently resolve these challenges."

Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger says her office isn't prepared for that.

"Our state's antiquated computer systems and databases make that task very difficult," Munger said.

Similar reasoning led a court to allow Illinois to pay all state workers during a 2007 impasse, but it's unknown whether that will be allowed again. It's a technical, legal matter, but partisan accusations mean it's now dripping with political overtones.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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