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Lawmakers React to Attorney General's Push to Prevent State Employees From Being Paid

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is looking to stop state worker pay until a budget is passed. The motion filed by Madigan in St. Clair County would dissolve a preliminary injunction, which allows state workers to be paid during the budget impasse.

Madigan wants to stop those payments. If granted, the motion could go into effect as early as February.

This motion is asking for the St. Clair County judge to overturn his original motion, allowing state workers to be paid during the impasse.

Madigan argued this court order has removed any urgency to come up with a process, but lawmakers said it could damage a week of promise and hope of a solution at the statehouse.

Some around the statehouse were surprised by the 26-page motion filed by Madigan, requesting 63,000 state workers not be paid until there's a budget.

It's upsetting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“I just think it adds to chaos to the entire situation,” said Rep. Tim Butler, a republican from Springfield.

“I think it's absolutely horrendous that the state could possibly shut down,” said Rep. Sue Scherer, a democrat from Decatur.

Madigan said in her motion, the ruling to allow state workers to be paid even without a budget was to avoid a state government shutdown. She argues the decision has removed any urgency for the General Assembly to resolve the budget impasse, “damaging the integrity of the state's constitutional form of government.”

“If she is so concerned about the constitution, I would suggest that maybe she should have filed this a long time ago,” said Butler.

So far, the state has gone about 18 months without a full budget, but now the Illinois Senate is drafting a grand bargain that would in part bring a budget to the State of Illinois.

Some lawmakers said Madigan's motion could speed up a budget resolution but that the risk is enormous.

“My fear is that because of her actions this week it will derail really real conversation,” said Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, a republican from Leland Grove.

“My hope is that we don't have to wait for a catastrophe to get a budget. And my fear is that's what could happen. We have got to -- it's so awful,” said Scherer.

Springfield lawmakers say they're concerned stopping state employee payments as of march 1st could further damage an economy already reeling from the lack of a budget. There are more than 10,000 state employees in Sangamon County.

“I'm certain that state employees will be tightening their purse strings if they don't think they'll be paid at the end of February,” said Butler.

Some republican lawmakers question the timing of the motion, especially coming off a week where both sides of the aisle talked about progress in the drafting of the grand bargain.

But Madigan said she filed the motion now with a second budget impasse underway.

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