State employee pay sparks conflicting court rulings
A July 9 ruling from a St. Louis-area judge would allow Comptroller Leslie Munger to pay state employees in full, even without a state budget in place. The ruling out of St. Clair County Circuit Court contradicts an earlier ruling from a Cook County judge, which denied a request from the Comptroller to continue to pay all state workers their full salary during the budget stalemate.
Following the St. Clair ruling, the Comptroller’s office issued a statement confirming it will begin processing July 15 payroll checks. However, the issue is continuing to play out in court, as the Attorney General’s office has indicated it will appeal the July 9 ruling.
The St. Clair ruling was issued in response to a case brought forth by state employees’ unions, arguing that failure to pay workers their full wages violates their collective bargaining agreements. The St. Clair judge agreed, and ruled that the state should pay all workers if it would be impossible to separate union and nonunion salaries, as the Comptroller maintains.
Further complicating matters, an appellate court on July 9 began consideration of an appeal of the July 7 Cook County ruling. The appellate court ordered the Comptroller to hold off on making any payments until they have a chance to review that case. The Cook County court had found that the state could only pay certain state employees federal minimum wage until a budget is in place; the Comptroller’s office said that the state’s archaic financial system would make that impossible.