A Cook County judge has ruled that Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to halt lawmaker pay over the pension crisis is unconstitutional and has ordered Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka to pay them immediately. Judge Neil Cohen says the state Constitution makes it clear that lawmakers' pay can't be changed while serving they're serving their terms. Quinn used his line-item veto to cut money for legislators' salaries from the state budget because they hadn't fixed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying Quinn's actions were unconstitutional and violated the state's separation of powers. They asked a judge to order paychecks be issued. Cullerton says now that a judge has ruled, lawmakers can ``put aside all distractions'' and focus on pension reform. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka says she has instructed her staff to begin re-issuing legislators' paychecks immediately to make sure state lawmakers get paid. However, in a statement Quinn says the lawsuit is about more than a governor's constitutional authority. He says he'll appeal and seek a stay until a higher court makes a decision. He says that Illinois' unfunded pension system is costing taxpayers.
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