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Topinka: ‘I’m not paying any legislators’

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinkspeaks news conference Chicago Thursday July 25 2013. Topinksays she has no choice but withhold paychecks

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka speaks at a news conference in Chicago, Thursday, July 25, 2013. Topinka says she has no choice but to withhold paychecks from Illinois lawmakers after her office reviewed Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to cut state legislator's paychecks earlier this month. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

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Updated: August 27, 2013 6:26AM

Republican state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said that her office will not pay lawmakers’ paychecks following a legal review of a line-item veto by Gov. Pat Quinn.

“I’m not paying any legislators” or the governor, Topinka said.

Topinka told reporters at a news conference on Thursday that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office had advised she could not pay out the salaries without an appropriation. Topinka said the issue will likely be resolved in court or if lawmakers override Quinn’s veto the next time they’re in Springfield. But until then, lawmakers will not be paid.

“Let me be clear: this is no way to run government,” Topinka said.

“Threats, blackmail and inertia may be good theater, but it makes us look ridiculous and takes away from our ability to get things done.”

Quinn vetoed a $13.8 million budget line that set aside money for lawmakers’ pay saying they should not be paid until they pass comprehensive pension reform.

Topinka’s announcement provides a political boost for Quinn, who has positioned himself as a champion to taxpayers by cutting off lawmakers’ salaries — and his own — until the pension crisis is resolved.

While it still may be challenged in court, Topinka and others had initially questioned whether Quinn’s move would hold up at all. The fact that it has — even temporarily — hands Quinn a political victory in his ongoing battle to resolve the pension mess. Some lawmakers have pinned the blame on Quinn, saying he has not done enough to lead on the matter.

On Thursday, Quinn said the General Assembly’s failure to pass a compromise has meant $2 billion in education cuts and $3 billion in social service cuts. The state’s credit rating has also been downgraded.

“Nobody should be paid until the job gets done for taxpayers,” Quinn said in a statement on Thursday.

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