Appellate Court reverses earlier ruling on state employee paychecks

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Supreme Court has denied an emergency motion seeking a direct appeal of a ruling earlier today from the First Appellate District overruling a circuit court decision last week saying state employees could not be paid without a budget in place. The High Court’s ruling today effectively ends the debate on whether state employees should continue to be paid during the budget stalemate.

The First Appellate District ruled today that the trial judge in the state employee payroll case failed to do two things.

First, Cook County Judge Diane Larson failed to limit the duration of her TRO forbidding the state from making payroll.

Second, Judge Larson failed to “balance harms” between workers not getting paid and checks being issued without an actual appropriation.

A Cook County judge decided last week that there could be no pay without the required budget in place. The order said Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger could only pay minimum wage to those workers covered by federal labor law. But Munger complained the state doesn’t have the technology to separate them from other employees.

The four-judge appellate panel said the lower court should have considered that hardship.

Munger released the following statement Friday in response to the First District Appellate Court’s decision to vacate the Cook County Circuit Court’s order to pay certain state employees at minimum wage:

“Today’s ruling removes any conflict between Court decisions and allows my office to continue paying all state employees for their work,” said Munger. “My priority has consistently been to comply with federal mandates and do everything in my power under the law to pay workers for services they are already providing the state. Time will tell what, if any, additional Court action occurs but I remain confident that paying state employees for their work is the legal, fiscally responsible and right thing to do.”

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office says the Appellate Court’s order means there will be additional proceedings before a final decision will be made and that the State will continue to operate without a budget and with a high degree of uncertainty, which could be quickly remedied if Governor and the Legislature would fulfill their duty to enact a budget.