The Madison County Record Jun. 28, 2016, 5:12pm


St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien, who authorized payment of state employee salaries by temporary order last year, hasn’t carried out an appellate court directive to enter a permanent order.

As of June 27, with one fiscal year ending for the state and the next one about to begin, LeChien had not held a hearing on the duration of his order.

Fifth District judges in Mount Vernon affirmed the temporary order last July but directed him to hold a hearing and determine its duration.

LeChien signed an order in August, declaring that his previous order would remain in full force and effect until he enters a final order.

State employee unions that sued Gov. Bruce Rauner have not asked LeChien for a hearing since then, and neither has Rauner.

Nor have they asked for a hearing on a motion the unions filed on March 15, a day after arbitrator Thomas Sonneborn found that Rauner properly laid off employees.

The unions moved for leave to add to their complaint a challenge to Sonneborn’s award, but LeChien hasn’t granted leave to amend the complaint.

Neither side has placed anything on the docket since then.

The layoff arbitration, which the unions and Rauner agreed to pursue after the unions sued him, couldn’t have turned out much worse for the unions.

Sonneborn wrote that it wasn’t enough for the unions to cry foul and seize upon the governor’s apparent dislike for them.

“This is an arbitration and allegations must be proven,” Sonneborn wrote.

He wrote that the state showed its combination of program cuts and position reductions would save more than $800 million; cuts other than those the unions would have made merely reflected the priorities of the administration.

“The union in this matter repeatedly acknowledged that there exists a fiscal crisis in Illinois, that expenditures far exceed revenues, and that the level of indebtedness is extreme,” Sonneborn wrote.

He wrote that the state, not the union, has power to decide the state’s budget and the size and composition of its work force.

“Arrearages in excess of $100 billion cannot continue to be ignored,” he wrote.

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