Illinois state lawmakers are looking to give themselves a $12,000 raise with a bill that spends more than $1.7 billion of taxpayer money.
Just before 9 p.m. Friday, the Illinois House approved an amendment to Senate Bill 1720. The measure now goes to the Illinois Senate, which returns Sunday evening.
Alongside giving pay raises to state legislators, constitutional officers and executive agency directors, the measure puts $850 million into the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund known as the rainy day fund, gives hospitals statewide a one time $460 million payment to help with the increased cost of nursing, puts $400 million into the Large Business Attraction Fund and deposits $72 million into the Disaster Recovery Fund, among other things.
“A hundred and seventy-four pages on a Friday night, the audacity of what we are doing,” state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, said in opposition. “Pay increase, Christmas in January, for legislators.”
In the 102nd General Assembly that ends Jan. 10, base pay for legislators is $72,906 a year. Legislative leaders get extra stipends ranging from committee chairman and minority spokesman receiving an additional $11,098 to the Senate president and House speaker getting an additional $29,530 a year. If Senate Bill 1720 as amended is approved by the Senate and is enacted by the governor, starting with the 103rd General Assembly that begins Jan. 11, the base pay for part-time state legislators will increase to $85,000.
The measure also increases the salaries of the governor from $181,670 to $205,700, the lieutenant governor from $140,000 to $160,900, the secretary of state from $161,500 to $183,300, and the attorney general from $161,000 to $183,300. The comptroller and treasurer would each get their salaries increased from $140,000 to $160,900.
Batinick said the bill has literally not seen the light of day.
“This is a Springfield setup,” he said. “You may think that the public isn’t going to notice, it seems that we’re doing our best to make it happen that way, but they will notice.”
House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said the measure is good for the state.
“We are putting aside $400 million to be competitive with other states in attracting high tech jobs and employers to our state, we are paying $460 million to keep our hospital systems afloat and we’re putting $850 million in its rainy day fund,” Harris said.
Harris went on to say the spending stabilizes the state’s finances and increases pension payments, but it also modifies state policies to help families “by making sure that the state takes its hand out of families pockets and sending all child support payments directly to the children.”