By CARL GREEN
Belleville, IL – Illinois state employees who were concerned they might be thrown out of work breathed easier last week when St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien ruled against a request by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Madigan had filed a motion to reverse LeChien’s earlier injunction allowing state employees to be paid even without a state budget. Her reasoning was that the injunction has allowed the state government to continue operating despite its lack a budget.
Removing the injunction, she said, would force Governor Bruce Rauner and the Legislature to resolve their budget impasse.
After LeChien declined to reverse the injunction, Madigan said she would appeal that decision.
“Under the current, the state has spent over $3 billion in taxpayer money without any transparency or legislative debate as required by law,” she said. “The governor is using this injunction to avoid following the constitution and enacting a budget, irreparably harming the people of Illinois.”
While state employees have continued to work, other functions such as education funding and social services have been allowed to wither for lack of a budget.
Negotiations have continued in the state Senate on a budget compromise, but its early versions contain numerous provisions that Labor groups would oppose.
Any compromise will require new or higher taxes. Rauner maintains he will support a tax increase only if it includes anti-worker measures such as cutting workers’ compensation.
AFSCME Council 31, in the midst of taking a strike authorization vote, had opposed Madigan’s request to end the injunction and was pleased by LeChien’s ruling.
“Through all state government’s chaos of the past two years, the people of Illinois have been able to rely on state workers to be there, providing important public services,” said Roberta Lynch, executive director of Council 31. “This decision ensures that that commitment can continue.”