Quinn has set numerous hard deadlines, including two special sessions, for lawmakers to resolve the crisis, but none has produced any results. Members of a bipartisan panel charged with finding a compromise blew past another deadline Tuesday, saying they needed more time to crunch numbers and try to work out a deal that can get legislative approval. Quinn had warned there would be consequences for lawmakers although he had not outlined what he planned to do.
"I've tried everything in the book to get their attention," he said. "But it's time now for the legislature to legislate."
The lawmakers' next paychecks are due Aug. 1, so if they don't act by then, they won't get paid.
Quinn said Illinois taxpayers have paid for legislators' lack of action on the pension crisis. Taxpayers had to pay at least $130 million extra in interest payments for a bond sale last month because of the lowered credit ratings.
"I think the taxpayers are on my side here," Quinn said.
The governor's actions come as he prepares for a 2014 re-election bid, and desperately needs to either resolve the biggest issue facing the state or deflect the blame for not getting a pension solution through the Legislature.
Taking on the General Assembly also could be a way for Quinn, who has seen his approval ratings sink, to further stress the populist, political outsider credentials on which he has successfully campaigned in other elections.
Former White House chief of staff Bill Daley has said he'll challenge the governor in a Democratic primary, and at least four Republicans have said they will try to unseat him.
Quinn cut about $13.8 million — the amount allocated for lawmakers salaries — from a larger budget bill that gives the Illinois comptroller the ability to issue paychecks to state employees.