CHICAGO (CBS) — The stakes just got higher in the battle over the state budget. A Cook County judge has ruled that Illinois cannot keep paying its state employees their full salaries without a budget in place, reports WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore.

Judge Diane Larsen has ruled that the state constitution doesn’t allow full pay for state employees without an appropriation and there aren’t any appropriations while the budget impasse continues.
That was the argument Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made according to her spokeswoman Natalie Bauer Luce.

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“The court agreed with the attorney general that this is an issue where the governor and the legislature need to enact a budget to ensure that critical services funded by an appropriations and state payrolls are made, again, through the legislative and appropriations process,” she said.

Federal law says essential workers can be paid minimum wage but State Comptroller Leslie Munger was asking the court to allow all of the salaries to continue because the state’s computers can’t handle such changes.

In a statement, Munger said, “I am most concerned about the impact this decision will have on our ability to pay those providing services to our most vulnerable residents, and I will continue to seek a remedy with their interests at the forefront of my mind.”

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Munger and attorneys for labor unions are hoping to mount an appeal.

Gov. Rauner spokesman Lance Trover released a statement saying, ““The governor believes state workers should be paid in full. He has asked CMS to explore all of its legal options, including seeking an expedited appeal of this order or other emergency relief to ensure that employees are paid and critical state services are not disrupted.”

Many state workers are worried.

“That is crazy,” said Ebony Murray. “We already haven’t gotten any raises over the past four years and now you are going to cut our pay and everything has been going up? What are we supposed to do to take care of our families?”

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The workers will eventually get all their pay, but retroactively.