Friday, February 17, 2017

Update: Court Denies Illinois Attorney General’s Action To Stop Pay For State Workers During Budget Impasse

As we previously discussed, the Illinois Attorney General filed a motion in St. Clair County Circuit Court seeking to dissolve a preliminary injunction that required the Comptroller to authorize payment of state employees’ full wages in the absence of a budget. Yesterday evening, a St. Clair County judge denied that motion effectively averting a shutdown of Illinois government by permitting state employees to continue getting paid despite the absence of a state budget.

And in an odd twist, the Governor’s attorneys stood alongside AFSCME attorneys in arguing that state employees pay should continue unabated. In seeking to dismiss the Illinois Attorney General’s position, both the Governor and AFSCME’s attorneys argued that the General Assembly had, in fact, “sanctioned” the initial order, in a single sentence of an 800-page stopgap budget which stated "All appropriation authority granted in this Act shall not supersede any order of any court directing the expenditure of funds for fiscal years 2016 or 2017.” In other words, the attorneys argued that the General Assembly had already appropriated funds for state employee payroll. In dismissing the Illinois Attorney General’s motion, the judge indicated that he did not want to see state government shut down and that the balance of equities in the case favored continuing to pay state employees.

The issue is far from resolved. The Illinois Attorney General stated its intent to appeal. Although state employees will continue to receive paychecks, that relief may only be temporary. Immediately after the decision was issued, the Illinois Attorney General stated its intent to appeal. Because the Illinois Attorney General sought to terminate the initial order by February 28, 2017, the question now is how quickly it appealed in order to attempt to dissolve that order over the next 11 days. We will keep you apprised of developments as they become available. Also, please contact us with any questions you may have about this development.