SPRINGFIELD-The dispute between Gov. Pat Quinn and the two Democratic legislative leaders over whether he had the right to withhold legislative pay is now headed to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The state’s high court agreed Wednesday to accept the case after the governor sought to bypass the Illinois Appellate Court in an appeal of a Cook County Circuit Court judgment that found in favor of Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago).
The two legislative leaders sued the governor and alleged he had overstepped his constitutional authority last July by attempting to gain leverage in an impasse over pension reform by using a line-item veto to zero out legislative pay from an appropriations bill.
“Gov. Quinn is pleased that the highest court in our state has agreed to hear our appeal of the decision made by the Cook County circuit court,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Wednesday.
“We believe the governor had the constitutional right to suspend the appropriation for legislative salaries, and the Supreme Court will render its decision in due time,” she said.
Wednesday’s move by the court is not surprising because lawyers for Madigan and Cullerton did not object to Quinn’s appeal directly to the Supreme Court.
The leaders and Quinn disagree over what the drafters of the state’s 1970 Constitution meant when they inserted language that bars any mid-term “changes” to legislators’ pay.
The leaders believe Quinn’s move amounted to such a change, while the governor argues that language applies only to increases in pay and that he was acting under his constitutional authority to partly veto appropriations bills with which he disagrees.