Law ensures state legislators' pay won't stop during budget impasse
In the state’s fiscal tug-of-war, Illinois legislators’ purses appear to be protected by House Speaker MIke Madigan’s (D-Dist 22) handling of details — and despite hardship for constituents, Illinois congressional salaries remain among the nation’s highest, a research group said recently.
Illinois lawmakers' annual salary, not counting stipends, is the fifth highest in the country, the Empire Center for New York State Policy, affiliated with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in Albany, said.
Following the passage of a 2015 bill to block cost-of-living increases in state legislators' salaries, Madigan filed an amendment to circumvent that restriction via “continuing appropriation,” effectively exempting lawmakers from the rule.
Madigan’s action pre-emptively ensured that lawmakers’ salaries, expenses and raises would come through, even if the General Assembly failed to pass a budget. For state representatives and senators to forgo their compensation, a special law would have to have been drafted because of the law’s phrasing.
Now, state employees at all levels are confronting temporarily slashed paychecks and layoffs while Assembly members continue to get paid.
The research group said Illinois taxpayers subsidize generous health care benefits for lawmakers, even though the jobs are part-time.
“It is especially concerning considering the financial situation the state is in,” the Empire Center said.