The hearing before Cook County Judge Neil H. Cohen was brief and laid out the schedule of paperwork to be filed before oral arguments take place on Sep. 18. That means lawmakers stand to miss at least one more paycheck (on Sept. 1) before a ruling comes down on their request to turn the paycheck spigot back on.
Lawyers for the Democratic legislative leaders have asked the judge for a preliminary injunction that would allow Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to cut checks. They are also seeking interest on the lost pay. The first monthly check they missed was supposed to be issued on Aug. 1.
Following the hearing, Quinn argued that instead of focusing on a lawsuit, lawmakers should cut a compromise on pensions and then vote to override his veto of their pay. Legislators argue that would only validate a move they say is unconstitutional, contending future governors could decide to withhold lawmaker pay any time they don't get what they want.
"We had to take dramatic and drastic action because the legislature has had months and months of opportunity to act and they've failed to act," Quinn said. "I think the taxpayers of Illinois know full well what the principle is, you don't get paid if you don't do your job."
Quinn faces a Democratic primary next year against Bill Daley, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama. The governor's lawmaker paycheck move represents a return to his populist roots --- one lawmakers have ripped as political grandstanding.