SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – The state’s 44 regional school superintendents haven’t been paid since July 1, and now they’re suing the state of Illinois to get their salaries back.

Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power to cut the money out of the Illinois budget.

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools said it had no choice but to take the dispute to court after trying for weeks to reach a compromise with Quinn.

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“We have exhausted all options in working with the governor’s office,” said Bob Daiber, president of the association and regional superintendent for Madison County.

There was no immediate response from the Democratic governor’s office.

The regional superintendents perform a long list of duties. They inspect local public schools, do employee background checks, certify teachers, operate area alternative schools and more.

Quinn considers them unnecessary bureaucrats. He said if the offices are going to continue, they should be supported by local governments instead of the state, which is cutting education spending by about $150 million.

After failing to get legislators to eliminate the offices this spring, Quinn used his power over the state budget to cut more than $10 million to pay the superintendents and their assistants.

His move did not end their duties, however. The Quinn administration said superintendents should work without pay until some unknown point when local government comes up with the money.

“Having missed three consecutive pay periods has generated real hardships on association members that face mortgage payments, property tax bills and monthly cost of living expenses,” Daiber said in a statement. The lawsuit says one superintendent is now on an unspecified form of welfare.

The lawsuit, filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court, points out that the General Assembly created the offices in 1975, replacing what until then had been county superintendents. It argues Quinn doesn’t have authority to block the salaries of duly elected public officials. Even if the money specifically earmarked for their salaries is vetoed, the lawsuit claims, the State Board of Education must pay the salaries out of other funds.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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