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Rauner Questions AG Madigan's Maneuver To Halt State Workers' Pay

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday questioned the motives of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who has gone to court to block the pay of state workers while there is still no state budget in place.

Rauner told reporters he's very upset and disappointed that Madigan has asked a judge to lift a court order allowing state workers to get paid during the protracted ongoing budget stalemate with Democratic lawmakers.

"I hope this is not a direct attempt to cause a crisis to force a shutdown of the government, to force another stopgap spending plan -- short-term, unbalanced, incomplete -- as a step to force a tax hike without any changes to our broken system. I hope that's not what this is. I hope the attorney general will reconsider," Rauner said Friday morning at a chamber of commerce breakfast.

Nearly two years ago, a St. Clair County judge ruled it would be unconstitutional to withhold paychecks from state workers, even without a state budget. Madigan has filed a motion asking the judge to dissolve the preliminary injunction allowing state workers to be paid during the budget impasse. The motion seeks to end the injunction at the end of February.

"With a new legislative session now underway, this is an appropriate time to ask the Circuit Court to reconsider this order in light of the changes in the law," Madigan said in a statement.

Madigan's filing argues, without the possibility of a government shutdown due to the injunction forcing the state comptroller to pay state workers even without a budget, the stalemate can continue indefinitely without a resolution.

The attorney general argued the Illinois Supreme Court has issued a ruling that shoots down the claim withholding state workers' paychecks would violate employee contracts, because the workers' union agreements are subject to state funding.

Rauner said he's disappointed and upset with Madigan's maneuver.

"This is going to hurt working families, the good hard-working employees of Illinois, who deserve to be paid, deserve to stay working. Our people of the state need our state employees to continue working. I hope the attorney general will reconsider this move," he said.

The governor said the attorney general shouldn't interfere with work underway in the Illinois Senate toward a budget agreement.

The state Senate recently has been working on a package of state budget bills as a potential compromise with Rauner. He has demanded broader reforms in state government before he'll approve new revenue sources, including tax or fee increases.

Lisa Madigan, a former state senator, is the daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is considered Rauner's chief political nemesis.

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