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Government State

Ill. Supreme Court to hear appeal on lawmaker pay

CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a ruling that his veto of lawmakers' pay was unconstitutional will be heard by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The high court issued its one-page order Wednesday. It has not yet scheduled a hearing date.

Quinn vetoed money for lawmakers' salaries in July after they failed to address pension reform by the latest deadline he had set.

Lawmakers make $67,836 a year, with some earning additional stipends for leadership roles.

The state's $97 billion unfunded pension liability – caused by lawmakers failing to make full payments to state pension systems over the years – has resulted in multiple credit rating downgrades and stripped crucial funds away from schools and social services.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued Quinn over the move, saying their fellow Chicago Democrat didn't have the authority to halt lawmakers' pay in the middle of their terms.

Cook County Judge Neil Cohen agreed, ordering on Sept. 26 that legislators be paid immediately.

Quinn then appealed directly to the state's high court, saying the case deserves an "expeditious and conclusive" ruling.

Brooke Anderson, Quinn's spokeswoman, said Wednesday the governor was pleased by the high court's decision to hear the case.

"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," Anderson said.

Quinn has not accepted his last three paychecks. Anderson said that practice will continue until pension reform gets done.

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