The Illinois General Assembly has not passed a budget in two years. And yet, state lawmakers continue to receive timely paychecks due to a lawsuit a group of Democratic state representatives filed.
Now, former state Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, has filed a lawsuit that – if successful – would result in state lawmakers receiving back pay for cost-of-living adjustments and furlough days during years they voted to forego pay raises.
At issue are eight bills lawmakers passed between 2009 and 2016 eliminating automatic cost-of-living raises, as well as five bills that implemented 36 furlough days during the same period. The suit argues changing a lawmaker’s pay in this manner violates the state Constitution.
Noland filed the complaint June 1. It does not outline how much money he lost as a result of these actions.
Illinois lawmakers are among the highest paid in the nation for what is technically part-time work – with a base salary of nearly $68,000. Taxpayers coughed up more than $100,000 per active lawmaker in 2015, including money toward salaries, bonuses, health care and per diems.
Interestingly, Noland voted for at least one of the bills he now contends was unconstitutional.
“We need structural tax reform to properly fund our most important priorities — like education, health care and the ongoing need for infrastructure,” Noland said in 2012 before voting to forgo a cost-of-living raise. “Until we do this, the least we can do is cut our own pay again. I know most working families in Illinois are not seeing raises this year, so we shouldn’t either.”
In contrast to Noland, Illinois state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, filed a “no budget, no pay” amendment in March.
Under his amendment to Senate Bill 989, monthly payments to lawmakers and executive branch officers could be delayed if the state’s general revenue fund has insufficient funds to pay all other obligations “within 90 days after a voucher requesting payment is submitted to the comptroller.”