John Cullerton

Judge Delays Decision On Lawmaker Paycheck Dispute

Sep 20, 2013

A Cook County Circuit Court judge says he will rule next month on a lawsuit challenging Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay until they address Illinois' pension crisis.  
Judge Neil Cohen said Wednesday he would issue his decision by Sept. 26. But on Friday, Cohen said he'll rule no later than Oct. 3.  
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued Quinn after the governor used his line-item veto to cut money for legislator salaries from the state budget. The legislative leaders say Quinn's action is unconstitutional.  

Ruling On Lawmaker's Paychecks Expected Next Week

Sep 18, 2013
flickr/longitudelatitude

A Cook County Circuit Court judge says he will rule next week on a lawsuit over Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmakers' pay. Judge Neil Cohen held oral arguments Wednesday. He said he'll issue his
decision by Sept. 26.
 
Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the
state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension
crisis.
 
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying
Quinn's actions were unconstitutional. They asked Cohen to order Comptroller

Amanda Vinicky

  Illinois Democrats put on happy faces Wednesday in Springfield for one of the party's biggest annual gatherings.  But even as they brushed off suggestions of turmoil and division within their ranks, a prominent member of the party was being sentenced to prison, another didn't show up and there's a battle for the top of the state Democratic ticket.  

A state fair is a place for tradition: carnival rides, corn dogs, barnyard animals.  And politicians.

Gov. Pat Quinn predicts that a lawsuit over his decision to suspend lawmaker pay for failing to act on the state pension crisis will be a ``landmark'' case.  
Quinn attended a court hearing Tuesday involving a lawsuit filed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton force Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue paychecks.  
A Cook County Circuit Court judge set oral arguments for Sept. 18.  

Madigan And Cullerton Want Court Action On Lawmaker Pay

Aug 6, 2013
Wikimedia Commons/user: kmaschke

Attorneys for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will be in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday to try and force Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to issue legislators' paychecks.

Last month, Quinn cut $13.8 million for legislators' paychecks in the state budget. He'd threatened consequences if lawmakers failed to act on addressing the pension problem. When a bipartisan pension failed to meet a deadline, Quinn cut their salaries.

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have sued Governor Pat Quinn over his veto of lawmakers' salaries. They say they're trying to protect the independence of the legislature.

Quinn vetoed lawmakers salaries out of the budget as a sort-of punishment for not passing legislation to overhaul Illinois' government-employee pension systems.

In a joint lawsuit filed in Cook County, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton say the governor overstepped his bounds.

Amanda Vinicky

  Governor Pat Quinn had harsh criticism for a bipartisan panel of legislators assigned to draft a new plan to reduce the state's pension costs.  He wanted legislation passed Tuesday.  Lawmakers say they're close, but Quinn is not helping.  

Quinn was quick to criticize lawmakers' failure to pass pension legislation in time to meet his July 9 due date.

Lawmakers Will Address Concealed Carry Next Week

Jul 2, 2013

Lawmakers are being called back to Springfield to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed changes on a concealed carry bill.
House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman Steve Brown said Tuesday the House
will convene in regular session July 9. Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman says senators will join them. 
That's the day Illinois must meet a court-mandated deadline to legalize concealed carry.
Quinn used his amendatory veto power Tuesday to make significant changes. But the bill's sponsor intends to call for an override.
 

Governor Pat Quinn is giving legislators less than three weeks to come together on a pension overhaul. So far the formation of a rare “conference committee” is the only result of the special legislative session Quinn called to deal with the state’s pension problem.

The Illinois Senate overwhelmingly rejected legislation on Thursday that would curtail government employees' and teachers' retirement benefits.

It raises the question of whether lawmakers will do anything to address Illinois' indebted retirement systems before they adjourn Friday night.

The pension-cutting legislation passed the House at the start of month.

But when it got a vote in the Senate yesterday, it didn't just fail - it plunged.  The Senate vote was 16 to 42.

Amanda Vinicky

Even as the legislative session winds down -- its last day is Friday -- there's no agreement on a solution to the state's pension problem.   

It's not like the problem came out of nowhere.  The $100 billion dollars of unfunded liability accumulated over decades.

And legislators have been talking about what to do about it for years.   Especially this session.

The House and Senate each passed legislation to cut Illinois' costs by reducing state employees and teachers' retirement benefits.  But both measures are stalled in the opposite chamber.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

While many people across Illinois had Monday off from work for Memorial Day, the members of the Illinois General Assembly were meeting in Springfield. Just four days remain until lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the summer. The last week of session is a time for individual legislators to shine — or stumble — as months of hard work on legislation culminates in long-awaited votes. We took a look at some of this week's key players in Springfield.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The legislative countdown continues, as Illinois' General Assembly is set to adjourn Friday.   Lawmakers spent their Memorial Day at the capitol, where little apparent progress was made on many of the outstanding issues.    The Senate met only briefly yesterday - the bulk of Senators' time was spent in private, partisan meetings.That's where they often make decisions on how to proceed on controversial issues. Like the budget. 

Brian Mackey / WUIS

There are five days left in the Illinois General Assembly's spring session. Legislators have a lot of work ahead of them.  The House adjourns on Memorial Day at noon; the Senate convenes at 4 p.m.

                   

  

                                       

Typically, fighting over the budget carries into the waning hours of a legislative session.

But Democrats - who have enough seats to pass a spending plan without any Republican votes - say they've already reached a deal.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois lawmakers remain at odds over how to handle the state's $100 billion of pension debt.  But there's a chance that this spring the General Assembly may finally do something about it.  After years of no major action, there are not one, but two major packages designed to reign in Illinois' retirement costs.  The House and Senate passed competing plans.  Both of them seek to save Illinois money by cutting current and retired government workers' benefits.  But one important group of government workers are being left out of both deals - judges.

Concealed carry debate
Chris Slaby/WUIS

The Illinois House on Friday approved legislation that would let Illinoisans carry concealed firearms. But Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll work to "stop it in its tracks."

The measure is being touted as a compromise by its sponsor, Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg.

"As we all know, after years of debating this issue, it is incredibly difficult, if not darn-near impossible, to come to a middle ground on this issue," Phelps said. "Every legislator on this floor has a different opinion when it comes to concealed-carry policy."

Amanda Vinicky

A state pension overhaul backed by government employee unions may save only half of what advocates had promised.  That underscores an ongoing battle between the House and Senate over pensions, with only ten days left in the legislative session.  

 

There's general agreement on this much: that Illinois' public pension systems have $100 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  That's a fancy word that basically means "debt."

It's a big number that's getting Illinois in trouble with bond houses and eating into the state's budget.

The Illinois Senate is expected to vote Thursday on the latest proposal to fix the state's drastically underfunded pension systems. In what's become a multi-year pension debate, many aspects of the plan have been put forth before. But it has one element that makes it unique.

The Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday approved a massive overhaul of state pensions. It's the first time the House has passed such a plan after more than a year of negotiating and many failed attempts.

Its also the first time Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, put his full support behind a specific proposal.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House is poised to vote Thursday on an overhaul of the state's pension systems. The plan easily advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning. But the Senate's working on different method. 

Wednesday began with a widespread feeling that after more than a year of failed attempts to reduce the state's pension debt, House Speaker Michael Madigan's proposal might be it. 

The Illinois House is poised to vote Thursday on an overhaul of the state's pension systems. It would reduce state workers', teachers', and university employees' future retirement benefits. The plan easily advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning. 

There's a feeling in the capitol that after countless attempts to reduce the state's pension debt, this may be it. Insiders say it's significant that the plan's sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan — who rarely takes action without having support locked up. 

Senate President John Cullerton
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Although legislators passed a tax increase in the last day of the lame duck session, they allowed other components in an overall budget and reform plan — some of which would have expedited long overdue payments to vendors, schools and social service providers — to fall apart. 

As the members of the 97th General Assembly embark on a new two-year legislative session, piecing together some the leftover parts of that plan will likely be their first order of business.

A Break From the Past

May 1, 2009
Senate President John Cullerton in his Statehouse office.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The soulful sounds of “A Change Is Gonna Come” resonated throughout the Illinois Senate January 14, when flowers and American flags adorned the chamber for a momentous inauguration ceremony.

Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had been impeached by the Illinois House five days earlier, fulfilled his constitutional duty by swearing in senators of the 96th General Assembly. 

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