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Quinn v. Donnewald

OPINION FILED JUNE 5, 1985.

PATRICK QUINN ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

JAMES H. DONNEWALD, STATE TREASURER, ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. David J. Shields, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 27, 1985.

The determination by the legislature of appropriate compensation for public officials has been a continuing and vexing problem. The Compensation Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 63, pars. 901 through 906) (the Act) was passed to allow the legislature to receive formal recommendations for compensation, following public hearings conducted by a board created by the Act.

The plaintiffs, Patrick Quinn, Stanley Sedny, Virginia Calfee and Doris Stanis, brought an action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking a declaratory judgment holding the Act to be violative of the Constitution of Illinois and enjoining James Donnewald, State Treasurer, and Roland Burris, State Comptroller, from expending public funds pursuant to the Act. The circuit court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment, and we allowed the plaintiffs' motion for direct appeal to this court under our Rule 302(b) (87 Ill.2d R. 302(b)). Amici curiae briefs in support of the defendants were filed in this court on behalf of the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Illinois Judges Association.

The General Assembly enacted the statute on July 17, 1984. The Act created the Compensation Review Board (the Board), the function of which is to recommend to the General Assembly the compensation for members of the General Assembly, judges, elected constitutional officers, and certain appointed officers of the State. The Act sets out various factors the Board is to consider in determining its recommendations for compensation. The Board is composed of 12 members, three of whom are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, three by the President of the Senate, and three each by the minority leaders of each house of the General Assembly. Each of those legislators appoints one Board member to serve a one-year term, one member to serve a two-year term, and one to serve a three-year term. A member may be reappointed to a second term, but no member may serve more than a total of six years. All members of the Board serve without compensation.

Section 4 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1984 Supp., ch. 63, par. 904) provides that the Board shall file a report of its recommendations with the House of Representatives, the Senate, the State Comptroller, and the Secretary of State. Reports are to be filed before May 1 of each even-numbered year. The Act provides that a majority of the members of each house of the General Assembly may vote to disapprove the report of recommendations "in whole or reduce it in whole proportionately" within 30 session days after the legislature next convenes following the filing of the report. If each house of the General Assembly votes to disapprove the report, or if the Board does not submit a report, and a new term commences for any official provided for in the Act, the salary for the new term will be the same as the salary for the just-completed term. If both houses decide not to disapprove the report, the salary recommendations will become effective.

The notion underlying the Act is not novel. At least 15 other jurisdictions have similar statutes or constitutional provisions under which a commission makes salary recommendations to the legislatures. Hawaii Const., art. Ill, sec. 9 (1983 Supp.); Idaho Const., art. Ill, sec. 23; Md. Const., art. Ill, sec. 15; Mich. Const., art. IV, sec. 12 (Supp. 1985); Okla. Const., art. V, sec. 21; Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann., sec. 41-1902 (Supp. 1984); Colo. Rev. Stat., sec. 2-3-801 (1980); Del. Code, tit. 29, sec. 3301 (Supp. 1984); Iowa Code Ann., sec. 2A.1 (Supp. 1983); Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann., sec. 6.226 (Baldwin 1984); La. Stat. Ann., sec. 42.1401 (West Supp. 1985); Mass. Gen. Laws Ann., ch. 6, sec. 162 (1980); Mont. Code Ann., sec. 2-16-401 (1983); S.D. Codified Laws, sec. 3-8-1.1 (1980); Wash. Rev. Code, sec. 43.03.028 (1983).

The Act provides that the General Assembly had until January 9, 1985, to vote to disapprove in whole any initial report filed after the effective date of the Act or to vote to reduce it in whole and proportionately. The Board submitted an initial report of recommendations on December 10, 1984. The Senate voted to disapprove the report in whole on December 11, and the House voted to disapprove in whole on the following day. The Board reconvened on January 7, 1985, and that day submitted to each house of the General Assembly a report in which some of the recommendations had been reduced. On January 9, a majority of the members elected to the House voted to disapprove this report, but less than a majority of the members elected to the Senate voted to disapprove the report. Thus, the report was not disapproved by a majority of both houses of the General Assembly. On April 18, 1985, the General Assembly appropriated the funds for the salary increases recommended.

We consider first the defendants' contention that the plaintiffs lack standing under section 11-303 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 11-303) to challenge the validity of the Act. Section 11-303 states that a taxpayer has standing to bring an action to enjoin public officials from disbursing public funds, but the defendants argue that the standing given under section 11-303 is limited to a challenge of an appropriation act and does not extend to a challenge to the validity of the statute authorizing the appropriation. We disagree with the contention. Section 11-303 does not contain such a limitation, nor does section 11-301 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 110, par. 301), which unequivocally states that any citizen has standing to enjoin the disbursement of public funds. Further, this court has held that the validity of a nonappropriation statute involving the expenditure of public funds may be challenged by a taxpayer in an injunctive proceeding. See Bode v. Barrett (1952), 412 Ill. 204; Snow v. Dixon (1977), 66 Ill.2d 443; Krebs v. Thompson (1944), 387 Ill. 471.

The plaintiffs offer a number of constitutional challenges to the Act. First, they contend that the Act is unconstitutional because it impermissibly delegates to the Board the power to determine the salaries of the State officials affected. The Constitution of Illinois provides that the salaries of legislators, judges, and executive officers shall be "provided" or "established" "by law." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, sec. 11; Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 14; Ill. Const. 1970, art. V, sec. 21.) These provisions, the plaintiffs say, require the legislature itself to set the salaries of these persons and prohibit the delegation of this responsibility to the Board. Their contention that the Act violates these provisions is erroneous. The Board simply makes recommendations; the General Assembly sets the salaries. Under the Act salaries are provided by law.

Delegate Wayne W. Whalen, the chairman of the Committee on Style, Drafting and Submission at the 1970 constitutional convention, described the significance of the term "by law" as used in the Constitution:

"The reason for the addition of the words `by law' was to point out to you that it was not the intent of the Committee of the Whole or the Substantive Committee that the General Assembly could act in any other way than the law-making process. As you know, the General Assembly can act by rule, it can act by resolution; that was not the intent. The intent was to use the entire law-making process as set out in the constitution, so to clarify this ambiguity we added the term `by law' * * *." (3 Record of Proceedings, Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention 2180.)

The Act establishing the procedure for providing salaries was enacted through the "law-making process" and in the normal legislative manner. It became law through the vote of a majority of both houses of the General Assembly and following presentment to the Governor for his action. The constitutional directive that salaries be provided or established by law was satisfied.

In Pressler v. Simon (D.D.C. 1976), 428 F. Supp. 302, 305-06, aff'd sub nom. Pressler v. Blumenthal (1978), 434 U.S. 1028, 54 L.Ed.2d 776, 98 S.Ct. 758, the court considered the Federal Salary Act, which, resembling our statute, established a commission to recommend salary increases, following the President's approval, to the Congress. The Federal act provides that if neither house of Congress disapproves salary recommendations, the increases shall become effective. The court was required to interpret article I, section 6, of the Constitution of the United States, which provides that legislative salaries "shall * * * be ascertained by Law." (U.S. Const., art. I, sec. 6.) In rejecting the contention of an unconstitutional delegation by Congress of its powers, the court observed:

"At the outset it should be noted that when Congress passed the Acts governing its compensation it acted `by law,' as plaintiff himself concedes. The suggestion is, though, that the ...


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