Special session will cost taxpayers $50,000 per day

Special session will cost taxpayers $50,000 per day

The cost of getting lawmakers to Springfield alone will run taxpayers $21,000 per day.

Lawmakers are back in Springfield June 21 for a 10-day special session to try and hammer out a budget, something the state has lacked for more than 700 days.

These extra session days will cost taxpayers.

The Chicago Tribune estimates the special legislative session will costs taxpayers about $50,000 per day. The extra cost for lawmakers alone would be $21,698 per day, factoring in the daily cost of per diem plus mileage to and from Springfield. This is on top of their normal compensation – which, with an annual base salary of roughly $68,000 per year, is among the highest of any state legislators in the nation.

On top of the added cost of special session days, the most recent budget proposals from both sides of the aisle include multibillion-dollar tax hikes.

During the last session, Senate Democrats proposed $5.4 billion in tax hikes and new taxes with little to nothing in the way of economic reforms. Since then, Republican legislators – with the backing of Gov. Bruce Rauner – also proposed at least $5 billion in new tax revenues, with an uninspiring, four-year property tax freeze without real relief and a pension plan that doesn’t address the system’s structural failures.

This isn’t what taxpayers, who are paying for this special session, are looking for. Two-thirds of Illinois voters don’t want an income tax hike as part of the state budget, according to polling conducted by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates and commissioned by the Illinois Policy Institute. More than three-quarters of respondents oppose hiking sales taxes. And nearly 80 percent agree “Illinois state lawmakers should pass major structural reforms before passing any tax increase.”

Lawmakers should use the special session to listen to taxpayers, focus on real reforms and pass a balanced budget that doesn’t raise taxes on already-overtaxed Illinoisans. Springfield should also consider reforming many of the state’s job killing policies such as its broken workers’ compensation system and prevailing wage laws, and reform costly subsidies to local governments.

The Illinois Policy Institute has introduced a budget proposal that offers reforms like this and many more without raising taxes. This kind of reform-minded, no-tax-hike proposal is in line with what Illinoisans want. Lawmakers should use that as a framework while taxpayers pay for their costly special session.

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