Illinois legislators will go without a paycheck this month if they fail to resolve the state’s nearly $100 billion pension crisis. Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday issued a line-item veto of a budget bill resting on his desk, showing the state’s lawmakers that their inaction has consequences.
“In this budget, there should be no paychecks for legislators until they get the job done on pension reform,” Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement: “Pension reform is the most critical job for all of us in public office. I cannot in good conscience approve legislation that provides paychecks to legislators who are not doing their job for the taxpayers.”
Members of the Illinois General Assembly take home about $68,000 a year. Like them, Quinn will also go without a paycheck until the system is reformed.
The public pension shortfall stems from decades of underfunding. Reforming the system has been Quinn’s top priority for the past two years. Lawmakers have missed numerous deadlines set by the governor to handle the crisis. The lack of a resolution led Fitch Ratings to downgrade the state’s credit rating from “A” to “A-.” This means Illinois will have to pay more to borrow money to improve state-owned facilities.