Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office.

Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued that the pay reduction measures they voted for violated the legislative salary clause of the Illinois Constitution, which says, “changes in the salary of a member shall not take effect during the term for which he has been elected.”

But in a 6-0 decision, the court declined to rule on the constitutionality aspect, saying the former lawmakers undercut their own case by voting in favor of the measures, touting them to the public and waiting too long to file their claims.

“We conclude that under the facts here, where plaintiffs, former legislators, agreed to, acquiesced in, and voted for the Salary Reduction Laws, plaintiffs cannot now be allowed to challenge the reductions in their salaries during their previous terms in office,” Justice P. Scott Neville wrote for the court.

Chief Justice Anne Burke and Justices Mary Jane Theis, Michael Burke, David Overstreet and Robert Carter concurred. Justice Lisa Holder White, who joined the court in July after oral arguments in the case had already concluded, did not take part in the decision.

Illinois is currently governed by the Compensation Review Act. In 1990, a Compensation Review Board that has since been abolished recommended that legislative salaries be subject to annual cost of living adjustments, or COLAs. The General Assembly approved that recommendation and it remained in effect when the board was abolished.

In 2009, in the wake of a severe recession, lawmakers passed a bill canceling those COLAs for the upcoming fiscal year, and they repeated that policy each year until 2019.

Clayborne served in the General Assembly for 24 years, from 1995 to 2019. Noland served for 10 years, from 2007 to 2017. Noland first filed the suit in Cook County shortly after he left office and Clayborne joined two years later after he had announced he would not run for another term.

The lawsuit sought what’s known as a “writ of mandamus” – an order for a public official to perform a legal duty – against Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

Clayborne claimed he was owed $104,412.93 in lost pay. Noland sought $71,507.43.

In July 2019, Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ruled in their favor, saying the salary freezes were unconstitutional, and a subsequent judge, Allen P. Walker, issued an order in April 2021 for Mendoza to make the payments. But Mendoza appealed directly to the Supreme Court.

During oral arguments, Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office, representing Mendoza, did not challenge the finding that the legislative acts were unconstitutional, but argued that the former senators had effectively waived their right to any relief by voting in favor of the pay reduction bills.

It also argued that the former lawmakers waited an unreasonable length of time before filing their claims and that their claims should be barred by the statute of limitations, which is generally five years.

In its ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed with those arguments and did not rule on the constitutionality argument.

“I’m so grateful the Supreme Court said ‘No’ to these two former legislators who voted to forego their raises, then issued news releases praising their self-sacrifice in declining those raises as they asked their constituents to re-elect them,” Mendoza said in a statement. “Years after they left the legislature they shamelessly sued me – and by extension, you, the taxpayers – saying they had no constitutional right to decline those raises and wanted them back.” 

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Leave a Comment





Local News

CRRNH_CosmoPhotoMDWArmory_032724

Pols want 63rd St. armory for new police HQ

Spread the love

Spread the love. Porfirio, Guerrero-Cuellar push plan in Springfield . By Tim Hadac Any plans the Chicago Department of Aviation may have had for the vacant Army National Guard Midway Armory, 5400 W. 63rd St., may be grounded, at least for now. Several elected officials are eyeing the parcel as the headquarters of a new…

Stacy Cygan. --Supplied photo

Her back against the wall, Stacy needs help

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound (708)-496-0265 . Clearing and Garfield Ridge have earned a reputation as a place where people look out for each other—and that sometimes means caring for each other in times of need. Today, I want to talk about one such person, who sure could use…

CRRNH_OLS3rdGradersWinPizzaParty_042424

It’s (pizza) party time at OLS

Spread the love

Spread the love. Third graders at Our Lady of the Snows School break into cheers as they learn they’ve won a pizza party for selling more raffle booklets than any other class. The recent Grand Raffle fundraiser brought in about $6,000. Parents looking for a grade school for their sons and daughters for 2024-25 are…

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart

Dart wants free mental health care for first responders

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports The Illinois Senate has passed legislation proposed by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart that eliminates out-of-pocket expenses for first responders seeking mental health treatment. “We ask first responders to be constantly exposed to traumatic and dangerous situations to protect us,” Dart said. “This legislation is a solid step…

Members of the Green Team, Pat Stifter, Tara Rosenwinkeo, Gareth Blakesley, Lake Katherine's Director & Chief Naturalist; and Beth Enriquez welcome volunteers for Palos Heights' Clean Up Day on April 13. (Photos by Kelly White)

Volunteers give Palos Heights a spring cleaning

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Palos Heights works hard to keep its city beautiful. Gathering residents together for a day of cleaning and fun was the Palos Heights Green Team with a Clean Up Day on April 13. “This event invited everyone in our community to do their part in combating pollution by having a…

A security-camera image of the man wanted for the crimes. --Supplied photo

Hunt man who tried to rob Chase Bank

Spread the love

Spread the love. FBI looking for tips from public .  From staff reports FBI officials are appealing to the public for help in finding a man who attempted to rob a Southwest Side bank branch. The bandit tried to rob the Chase Bank branch at 5687 S. Archer (just west of Laramie) at about 11…

Congressman Sean Casten, speaking at a Town Hall meeting at Moraine Valley Community College.
(Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Casten lauds Biden for ‘clean energy’ move

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports A move designed to spur the responsible development of clean energy on America’s public lands was recently lauded by U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-6th). The congressman, co-chairman of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) Clean Energy Deployment Task Force, joined by co-chairman Mike Levin (D-Calif.), released a…

Giannoulias

E-Notary makes things easier, Giannoulias says

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports Illinois residents will no longer have to notarize documents in person under a new Electronic-Notary system administered by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias’ office. Electronic Notarization, or “E-Notary,” will radically change the way people and use notary services, Giannoulias predicted. Without leaving the home or office, an individual or…

Fire Bureau Chief David Wheeler (from left), Mayor Terry Vorderer and Police Chief Daniel Vittorio congratulate the winners of the 2023 Fire and Safety Coloring Book Contest during the April 9 Oak Lawn Village Board meeting. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn honor Fire and Public Safety Contest winners

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle The Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce presented awards to the winners of the 2023 Fire and Public Safety Coloring Book Contest at the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on April 9. Fire Bureau Chief David Wheeler and Police Chief Daniel Vittoro were on hand to present the plaques, along with Oak…

Abdelnasser Rashid

Rashid scolds TV news orgs on climate change

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid (D-21st) recently scolded major news organizations for what he called a lack of attention to climate change. “Last year was marked by alarming climate extremes, from record-breaking heat waves to devastating floods, droughts and wildfires,” Rashid wrote earlier this month in a letter to his…

Neighbors

CRRNH_CosmoPhotoMDWArmory_032724

Pols want 63rd St. armory for new police HQ

Spread the love

Spread the love. Porfirio, Guerrero-Cuellar push plan in Springfield . By Tim Hadac Any plans the Chicago Department of Aviation may have had for the vacant Army National Guard Midway Armory, 5400 W. 63rd St., may be grounded, at least for now. Several elected officials are eyeing the parcel as the headquarters of a new…

Stacy Cygan. --Supplied photo

Her back against the wall, Stacy needs help

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Tim Hadac Editor Clear-Ridge Reporter & NewsHound (708)-496-0265 . Clearing and Garfield Ridge have earned a reputation as a place where people look out for each other—and that sometimes means caring for each other in times of need. Today, I want to talk about one such person, who sure could use…

CRRNH_OLS3rdGradersWinPizzaParty_042424

It’s (pizza) party time at OLS

Spread the love

Spread the love. Third graders at Our Lady of the Snows School break into cheers as they learn they’ve won a pizza party for selling more raffle booklets than any other class. The recent Grand Raffle fundraiser brought in about $6,000. Parents looking for a grade school for their sons and daughters for 2024-25 are…

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart

Dart wants free mental health care for first responders

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports The Illinois Senate has passed legislation proposed by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart that eliminates out-of-pocket expenses for first responders seeking mental health treatment. “We ask first responders to be constantly exposed to traumatic and dangerous situations to protect us,” Dart said. “This legislation is a solid step…

Members of the Green Team, Pat Stifter, Tara Rosenwinkeo, Gareth Blakesley, Lake Katherine's Director & Chief Naturalist; and Beth Enriquez welcome volunteers for Palos Heights' Clean Up Day on April 13. (Photos by Kelly White)

Volunteers give Palos Heights a spring cleaning

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Palos Heights works hard to keep its city beautiful. Gathering residents together for a day of cleaning and fun was the Palos Heights Green Team with a Clean Up Day on April 13. “This event invited everyone in our community to do their part in combating pollution by having a…

A security-camera image of the man wanted for the crimes. --Supplied photo

Hunt man who tried to rob Chase Bank

Spread the love

Spread the love. FBI looking for tips from public .  From staff reports FBI officials are appealing to the public for help in finding a man who attempted to rob a Southwest Side bank branch. The bandit tried to rob the Chase Bank branch at 5687 S. Archer (just west of Laramie) at about 11…

Congressman Sean Casten, speaking at a Town Hall meeting at Moraine Valley Community College.
(Photos by Jeff Vorva)

Casten lauds Biden for ‘clean energy’ move

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports A move designed to spur the responsible development of clean energy on America’s public lands was recently lauded by U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-6th). The congressman, co-chairman of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) Clean Energy Deployment Task Force, joined by co-chairman Mike Levin (D-Calif.), released a…

Giannoulias

E-Notary makes things easier, Giannoulias says

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports Illinois residents will no longer have to notarize documents in person under a new Electronic-Notary system administered by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias’ office. Electronic Notarization, or “E-Notary,” will radically change the way people and use notary services, Giannoulias predicted. Without leaving the home or office, an individual or…

Fire Bureau Chief David Wheeler (from left), Mayor Terry Vorderer and Police Chief Daniel Vittorio congratulate the winners of the 2023 Fire and Safety Coloring Book Contest during the April 9 Oak Lawn Village Board meeting. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn honor Fire and Public Safety Contest winners

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle The Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce presented awards to the winners of the 2023 Fire and Public Safety Coloring Book Contest at the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on April 9. Fire Bureau Chief David Wheeler and Police Chief Daniel Vittoro were on hand to present the plaques, along with Oak…

Abdelnasser Rashid

Rashid scolds TV news orgs on climate change

Spread the love

Spread the love. From staff reports State Rep. Abdelnasser Rashid (D-21st) recently scolded major news organizations for what he called a lack of attention to climate change. “Last year was marked by alarming climate extremes, from record-breaking heat waves to devastating floods, droughts and wildfires,” Rashid wrote earlier this month in a letter to his…