CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner attacked and vowed to fight Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's attempt to block state payroll amid the state's almost 19-month-old budget impasse.
Madigan announced late Thursday her filing of an emergency motion in St. Clair County Court seeking to lift a preliminary injunction that has allowed for state workers to continue to be paid despite the lack of a budget authorization.
The move follows the expiration of the state's six-month stopgap budget authorization Jan. 1.
"The St. Clair County Court has removed much of the urgency for the legislature and the governor to act on a budget," Madigan said in a statement.
"It has always been our goal to allow the executive and legislative branches to do their job without further litigation. While the stopgap budget was in place, it was our hope that the governor and Legislature would continue to work to enact a full fiscal year budget. The legislature and the governor now face the need to enact a budget for the rest of the fiscal year."
Madigan added that the legal basis for the original St. Clair court order allowing payroll to continue has since been overruled by the Illinois Supreme Court.
"With a new legislative session now underway, this is an appropriate time to ask the Circuit Court to reconsider this order in light of the changes in the law."
The filing also asks that the court wait on final action until Feb. 28 to avoid undue hardship and provide adequate time for lawmakers to reach a deal with the new threat at hand.
Rauner responded Friday making a public statement and in an email to state workers.
"I am deeply disappointed, very upset, about this court filing….seeking to block state employee pay," Rauner said. "I hope this is not a direct attempt to cause a crisis to force a shutdown of the government, to force another stopgap spending plan, short-term, unbalanced, incomplete, as a step to force a tax hike without any changes to our broken system."
Rauner said he feared the move could block progress on a bipartisan Senate plan that would fund remaining fiscal 2017 spending, borrow to pay down bills, reform pensions, raise taxes, and includes some of the policy and governance reforms that the governor has demanded as part of a solution. The Senate put off a vote this week but is expected to vote on the package the week of Feb. 7.
"Let's not block our progress by creating a crisis," Rauner said during a public appearance.
In an email to employees, Rauner said: "Our administration will use all available legal options to continue employee pay and avoid any disruption to government services."
Although Madigan laid out her reasoning on the timing of the filing and language in the filing and her statement make clear she is trying to pressure Rauner and lawmakers to act, some questioned her motives.
Some questioned whether she was trying to help harm the chances of the Senate plan before it even makes it to the House, which is controlled by her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. Madigan has been the most staunch opponent of Rauner's policy and governance agenda and wants a budget tackled alone.