Illinois lawmakers get $4,250 raise just months after $12,000 raise

Illinois lawmakers get $4,250 raise just months after $12,000 raise

Illinois state lawmakers had tried to bump their pay by 5.5%, but that violated the state constitution. The must settle for 5%, meaning they will make nearly $90,000 a year.

Illinois state lawmakers are set to receive a $4,250 pay bump for their cost of living, just months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off on more than a $12,000 raise for legislators at the start of 2023.

They wanted more. Lawmakers tried to give themselves a 5.5% boost, but the Illinois Constitution limits cost-of-living increases to 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

Pritzker adjusted the amount through his broad veto powers as he signed the new budget into law. In his veto notice, he said it was evident the error was “inadvertent” and that lawmakers “intended for the amounts set forth in Senate Bill 250 simply to implement the salaries provided by law.”

Illinois lawmaker salaries were already among the highest in the nation. The latest pay bump pushes their annual salary to nearly $90,000. Only California, New York, and Pennsylvania pay their legislators more than Illinois.

Among states where legislatures are considered less than “full-time,” Illinois’ lawmakers are the highest paid, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL classifies Illinois as “full-time lite,” meaning they serve smaller districts and work shorter sessions than full-time lawmakers, but are highly paid, employ large staffs and perform legislative work for at least 80% of their jobs. Illinois lawmakers are in session for about 70 days a year.

The latest 5% pay bump means Illinois legislators’ base salary will increase from $85,000 to $89,250. The latest increase also means the base salary for lawmakers has risen by $21,414 during Pritzker’s time in office so far. Since 2020, lawmaker pay has risen in Illinois more than any other state except New York. Compensation for Illinois lawmakers has now increased by $19,786 since 2020.

While lawmakers have secured pay raises that far outpace the near-record inflation experienced in 2022, Illinoisans’ incomes have failed to keep up. Workers are facing one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, and the state’s tax burden continues a meteoric rise.

Illinoisans’ everyday costs increase once again July 1. The 1% grocery tax will return after being suspended by Pritzker during his reelection campaign. Illinois is one of just 13 states to tax groceries. Illinoisans will also face their second gas tax hike in six months July 1, with the state adding 45.4 cents a gallon compared to 19 cents before Pritzker took office.

Instead of focusing their efforts on even more pay boosts for themselves, lawmakers should have focused on providing relief to Illinoisans by eliminating the grocery tax and ending automatic gas tax increases.

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