By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Statehouse News
SPRINGFIELD — In the fight for control over Illinois' purse strings, House Speaker Mike Madigan says the Legislature, not Gov. Pat Quinn, decides how to spend the taxpayer's money and balance the Illinois budget.
"I don't necessarily subscribe to the view that what the executive (branch) does binds the legislative (branch)," the Democrat from Chicago said at a statehouse hearing Monday here.
The hearing allowed Madigan to further showcase his legislative resolution that would allow the Legislature to indicate how much the state can spend on employee pay during upcoming contract negotiations between Quinn and the state’s largest public-sector union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.The contract expires in June.
"One of our responsibilities, under the constitution, is to adopt a balanced budget. Which means, under the constitution, we are expected to be involved in budget making," Madigan said. "We do not want to replace the governor in negotiations."
Henry Bayer, executive director for AFSCME Council 31, said Monday that the Legislature gave Quinn the authority that Madigan wants to change.
"The Legislature passed the current collective bargaining (legislation), and gave to the governor the power to negotiate collective bargaining agreements," said Bayer. "We've been doing that … since 1984.
But Madigan said Illinois is broke and the Legislature needs to have input in the negotiations.
Input, however, is all the speaker could get. State Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, points out that Madigan's recent proposal is a legislative resolution.
Kelly Kraft, Quinn's budget spokeswoman, said the governor is "monitoring" the hearings into Madigan's resolution, but is quick to add that "Quinn has constitutional authority to negotiate union contacts, and the General Assembly appropriates the funding."