CHICAGO — Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said she would appeal a court decision that bars her from meeting the full state payroll without a fiscal 2016 budget in place.
The ruling ups the pressure on Gov. Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to resolve their budget stalemate with the state now in the second week of the fiscal year without a spending plan in place. The Senate last week passed a one-month budget that failed in the House, which will try again this week.
Rauner has called the one-month proposal unconstitutional.
"We went to court to ensure that my office can comply with federal law and compensate employees for services they are already providing to the state," Munger said in a statement. "Ultimately, that can best be accomplished by paying all workers schedule. My office will soon file an appeal to today's decision and will provide further information as it becomes available."
Unions too said they would appeal. The first payroll to be impacted comes in mid-July.
Munger had pre-emptively filed a complaint asking for court guidance on what can and can't be paid without a budget in place.
The freshman GOP governor and the General Assembly's Democratic majority remain at an impasse, with Rauner refusing to support new tax revenue to balance the budget unless Democrats pass his worker's compensation and tort reforms, a two-year local property tax freeze, and advance constitutional questions on term limits and redistricting.
Rauner last week ordered state employees to continue to report to work and argued the state could meet payroll based on a 2007 ruling. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan disagreed and also sought court intervention.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Diane Larsen ruled continuing and non-appropriated expenses are among those obligations that can be repaid. They include debt service, pension payments, and local government distributive aid, judicial expenses, and consent decree obligations. Lawmakers also can continue to be paid.
The comptroller is "is enjoined, in the absence of enacted appropriations legislation from processing vouchers for payment of state employee payroll except vouchers that comply only with the minimum federal minimum wage and overtime requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act," the court ruling read.
The state is arguing that its antiquated systems make it difficult to both identify employees who must be paid under federal law and then to adjust their paychecks. A similar situation in 2007 led the courts to order the state to meet the full payroll.
The court on Tuesday chided the state for not updating its systems sufficiently over the last eight years to ensure a similar situation would not occur.
Rauner's office said it was exploring legal options.
"The governor believes state workers should be paid in full. He has asked Central Management Services to explore all of its legal options, including seeking an expedited appeal of this order or other emergency relief to ensure that employees are paid and critical state services are not disrupted," a statement said.