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Quinn says stopping paychecks to legislators is constitutional

Gov. PQuinn  |  Sun-Times files

Gov. Pat Quinn | Sun-Times files

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Updated: September 3, 2013 7:01AM

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday defended his decision to halt paychecks to legislators, saying he acted in a constitutional manner and the lawsuit filed against him sends a message to taxpayers that legislative pay is more important than pension reform.

“I think it’s [the lawsuit] wrong. I think it’s much better for the Legislature to focus on pension reform,” Quinn said at Columbia College Chicago while announcing $54.8 million in grants to colleges and universities in the Chicago area.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton filed a suit Tuesday against the Democratic governor and Republican state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka in Cook County Circuit Court, aiming to enlist the state’s judiciary in blocking Quinn’s unprecedented suspension of legislative paychecks until a pension deal is reached.

“I feel more years of delay is unacceptable to the taxpayers of Illinois,” Quinn said. “Our economy is at stake. Our children’s education is at stake and that’s why I line-item vetoed the appropriations for the legislative pay.”

Quinn questioned why a lawsuit had been filed, arguing that legislators should instead take a vote to override the veto.

“I don’t know why they are going to a courtroom. If they really don’t like what I did, they should go to Springfield, our state Capitol, and take a vote,” he said.

Quinn said the lawsuit sends the message that “their pay is more important than pension reform.”

The governor said he is in talks with the Illinois Attorney General’s office for representation.

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