Judge awards back pay to ex-lawmakers who rejected raises

Two former state lawmakers who argued that a freeze on raises violated the state Constitution can collect back pay, a judge said.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza pledged to appeal the decision and called the former lawmakers "shameless grifters" pursuing a "brazen money grab."

Michael Noland of Elgin, who now is a Kane County circuit court judge, and James Clayborne of Belleville sued, arguing that laws freezing General Assembly salaries from 2009 to 2016 were illegal because lawmakers are barred from changing their pay during a current term.

Lawmakers typically would receive annual inflation raises.

Cook County Judge Allen Price Walker said Noland and Clayborne, both Democrats, didn't wait too long to sue. The decision Thursday applies only to them, not other lawmakers who were in office, because they filed the lawsuit as individuals, not public officials, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Noland could get about $71,000, while Clayborne is in line for $95,000.

Ironically, Clayborne voted in favor of turning down the raises. Noland voted against the legislation only once, the Tribune reported.

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