State Sen. Mike Jacobs, who represents Whiteside County, says the governor abused his power by vetoing legislative salary appropriations.
But the East Moline Democrat still supports fellow Democrat Pat Quinn’s bid for a second term as governor.
Lawmakers have missed two monthly paychecks. The Democrats’ legislative leaders have challenged the veto in court.
Quinn vetoed lawmakers’ pay, saying the state shouldn’t compensate them until they enact pension reform.
The veto, Jacobs said, is starting to affect legislators financially.
“If this goes on much longer, we all will be in trouble,” he said. “This is a kind of coercion. He’s saying, ‘If you do what I want, I’ll pay you.’ That’s a dangerous place.”
At the same time, Jacobs backs Quinn for re-election. The governor became the only Democratic candidate last week with the exit of Bill Daley, a former White House chief of staff.
“The governor will become the Democratic standard bearer,” Jacobs said. “We’ll put our full weight behind him. He’s a caring man.”
On Saturday, Quinn stopped in Sterling to award a $1.3 million grant to revitalize the riverfront and add green infrastructure. Jacobs attended the announcement, but he said he didn’t mention the paycheck issue with the governor.
“It’s hard to slap a guy in the face who has been helping you every time you ask for it,” the senator said.
But he said he thought it was beneath Quinn’s office to veto legislative paychecks.
“The governor should be a figure you look up to,” he said.
Still, Jacobs said, Quinn has been good for the area. The governor helped bring budget deficits under control and taken steps to ease the pension crisis, he said.
“I will work with the governor,” he said.
Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, who also represents Whiteside County, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but he said in July that he would support the Democratic nominee.
Smiddy and Jacobs are full-time legislators, while Sen. Tim Bivins and Rep. Tom Demmer, both Dixon Republicans, have other sources of income. Demmer works for KSB Hospital, and Bivins gets a pension from his years with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
Jacobs has called himself a “prolific saver” who could make do without a salary for a month or two but that it would get to be more of a desperate situation if the standoff lasts 3 or 4 months.
Asked recently about his financial situation, Smiddy said he didn’t want the focus to be on the pay.
“I’ll do OK. We’re making do with what we have,” he said. “I would like the focus to be on the pension issue. I’m optimistic we can get everything worked out.”