DIGGING DEEPER: Local impact of freezing state worker paychecks - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

DIGGING DEEPER: Local impact of freezing state worker paychecks

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Programs eliminated, services cut, employees laid off.

They are the impacts of Illinois not having a full budget for a year-and-a-half now.  Lawmakers haven't been getting paid for month. But up until now, state employee paychecks have been off limits.

"We've been on auto-pilot here and I think that's allowed in some sense for this crisis to continue," said (D) Sen. Steve Stadelman.

That could change if Attorney General Lisa Madigan has her way.

She filed a motion last week to stop paying state worker's salaries until a spending plan is passed. The attorney general's office tells 13 News this will make sure negotiations don't end.  

"Will really add a sense that we have got to get a budget resolution passed right away," Stadelman said.

Madigan's office hasn't specified which employees would be affected.

According to a database created by the State Journal-Register, more than 800 state employees worked in Winnebago county in 2015. Their salaries total more than $50 million.

One place many of those employees work is in the courts.

"If for some reason they aren't paid for the work they're doing I imagine there would be a variety of challenges to that state action," said Winn. County Chief Judge Joe McGraw.

Some lawmakers say the timing of Madigan's court order is peculiar.

"If this is really a concern i don't know why the issue wasn't brought up last year when there wasn't a budget passed," said (R) Sen. Dave Syverson.

It also comes as the Senate works on a so-called bi-partisan "grand bargain."

Syverson said the attorney general's actions will only delay that.

McGraw says his employees will continue to work if salaries are stopped but he says lawmakers need to step up so it doesn't come to that point.

The hearing date for Madigan's motion is February 16th. Syverson said even if the judge approves the motion the governor will likely appeal it.

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