Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Appellate Court Hears Arguments on State Employee Pay Dispute

Brian Mackey
The Fifth District Appellate Court building in Mount Vernon, Illinois.

A case with the potential to upend Illinois' budget impasse was argued Tuesday before the Fifth District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is trying to halt employee paychecks. She said only the General Assembly can approve state spending — meaning Illinois doesn’t have the legal authority to make payroll.

The AFSCME union opposes the move. Lawyer Steve Yokich said employees could have been told to stay home during the impasse. Instead, they were told the opposite.

“We say that if the employer tells you to go to work, that they have a legal obligation to pay you at your regular rate of pay, in a timely way, for that work,” Yokich said.

Madigan argues that paying state employees removes “any imperative” for Governor Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly to “fulfill their basic constitutional obligations and resolve their budget impasse.”

There’s no schedule for when the Appellate Court justices might resolve the case. And even when they do, the losing party could seek an appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court — meaning any potential government shutdown remains a long way off.

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.