Rauner vetoes raises for state lawmakers
Like so many Illinoisans working in a stagnant state economy, state lawmakers will not receive pay raises this year. But House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will still receive bonuses in excess of $25,000.
The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill last year ensuring state lawmakers will still get paid in the event of a government shutdown, but Gov. Bruce Rauner has ensured they will reap no further rewards after failing to pass a balanced budget by the July 1 deadline.
Rauner struck down cost-of-living salary increases for Illinois lawmakers on July 1, with his veto of Senate Bill 1354. His amendatory veto also freezes legislators’ daily allowance ($111) and travel-reimbursement rate (39 cents per mile).
The raises would have totaled between $1,300 and $1,900 for each lawmaker in fiscal year 2016, according to Rauner’s veto message.
Illinois is underperforming. Its legislators are overpaid.
Illinois lawmaker salaries are the fifth highest in the nation, on average, ranging from $68,000 to $95,000 for part-time work. Taxpayers also contribute $99,000 per active lawmaker to the General Assembly Retirement Fund, or 11 times more than lawmakers will contribute to their own pensions. Retired state lawmakers enjoy an average annual pension of $56,000, which grows by a compounded 3 percent each year, tax free.
While Rauner was able to cut cost-of-living raises, House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will still take home some of the largest leadership bonuses in the nation – at $25,000 each. This money is part of the continuing appropriation lawmakers passed for themselves last year.
Rauner has refused to take a salary in his tenure as governor, and many responsible lawmakers have opted out of the pension system. In a cash-strapped state, fiscally ruined after decades of irresponsible spending, common sense dictates the blame and consequences should fall first on the actors who caused the problem.
While the savings are minor, stemming the rising tide of political pay in Illinois is a no-brainer, and carries symbolic importance for those who have watched Springfield fail for too long.