SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) says if lawmakers are supposed to find a way to build the state payroll, they should be involved in negotiating labor contracts.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, Madigan presented the issue as one of constitutional powers.

“I see the legislature in the Constitution as one of the three co-branches of American government, and constitutionally empowered to do budget-making, which is authority to spend money. That’s all it is,” he said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports

State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) chairs a House committee hearing on whether the legislature should have someone at the bargaining table with state labor unions. He said the state needs to be able to keep track of all the money it is spending.

“We obviously don’t have unlimited money, and so, when we make the budget for the next fiscal year, in order to have a balanced budget, we need to have some idea of how much money is going to be available to make that payroll,” he said.

Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, the largest state workers’ union in Illinois, says he is concerned about whether lawmakers would focus on workers’ careers and compensation.

“The legislature is, and should be, concerned about the state workforce, and would want to have a workforce that is decently compensated,” he said.

Lawmakers are considering not only this resolution, but also whether to freeze wages until there is a state surplus two years running.

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