Illinois attorney general says despite Rauner’s claim, paychecks not certain

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to keep paying state employees even without a budget agreement could hit a legal snag.

The Republican governor sent a memo to employees Monday in an attempt to reassure them that they will get their paychecks as scheduled and should continue punching in on Wednesday. That’s the beginning of a new fiscal year and there’s no spending plan in place.

Rauner says his action is based on “precedent.”
Madigan — a Democrat — released a statement Monday afternoon saying a 1991 appellate court ruling decreed there can be no paychecks without a budget. She says a union lawsuit in 2007 during a budget impasse allowed the state comptroller to make payroll under very limited circumstances.

The State has experienced budget impasses in two recent years – 2007 and 2009. In 2007, after the legislature and the Governor enacted a one-month budget, the State began August without a budget in place.

In early August, while the legislature was meeting to consider a budget, AFSCME sued the State, asking a court to order the Comptroller to issue paychecks.

The arguments in that case focused on whether the State was prepared to comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates that employees who are covered by that law must be paid the federal minimum wage on the date that their regular paychecks are due or the State will be liable for damages and interest.

Because federal law takes precedence over the Illinois Constitution, the State is required to comply with the FLSA, even in the absence of a budget.

At the time that AFSCME sued in 2007, State agencies and offices were not prepared to pay a FLSA-compliant payroll in time to meet with August payroll deadlines.