In addition to finalizing funding for a capital construction plan when they return to the Capitol today, Illinois lawmakers will consider a bill that requires they take 12 days off in the next fiscal year.
In addition to finalizing funding for a capital construction plan when they return to the Capitol today, Illinois lawmakers will consider a bill that requires they take 12 days off in the next fiscal year.Senate Bill 266 requires lawmakers to forfeit a day of pay each month, and it blocks their annual cost-of-living allowances, which would have been 1.1 percent in the fiscal year that starts July 1, according to a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. The bill also blocks COLAs for the governor and the other statewide elected constitutional officers and others whose pay is recommended by the Compensation Review Board, and it freezes lawmakers’ per diems at $111, the same as this year but below the $140 they got two years ago. “It represents shared sacrifice,” said Cullerton spokesman John Patterson. The furlough days taken by the General Assembly will save about $565,000. Under the bill, lawmakers will basically lose 4.6 percent of their salaries — more than $3,000 per lawmaker, depending on whether they receive an additional stipend to their base salary of $67,836 for being in leadership or the chair or ranking minority member on a committee. Those stipends range from $10,327 (for committee posts) to $27,477 (for Senate president, House speaker and House and Senate minority leaders). The measure has already passed the House. If it passes the Senate, it will head to Gov. Pat Quinn. “It is symbolic, but it’s important for us to lead in that area,” said Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, who believes this is the third year lawmakers have taken furlough days. “If we expect employees to do it, and given the fiscal condition of the state, I think that we have to lead in that area.” But Sen. Sam McCann, R-Carlinville, believes more can be done. McCann supports taking furlough days but would also like to see a bill passed that would cut legislative pay by at least 10 percent. “I would even entertain a 25 percent pay cut,” he said. McCann acknowledged that under the Illinois Constitution, lawmakers cannot formally cut or increase their pay for the current legislative session, but he wants a pay cut instituted for the next General Assembly. “When we’re looking at folks and telling them we have to cut their appropriation, we have to lead by example,” he said. “We in government have to do what business owners and families across the state are having to do.” Chris Wetterich can be reached at 788-1523. Not a special session Today’s legislative session is not a special session but an extension of the regular spring session that began in January. Because it is not a special session and it occurs after May 31, lawmakers will not receive their customary $111 per diem. That means lawmakers are in town on their own dime. Other items Lawmakers today may consider a bill favored by Gov. Pat Quinn that would allow him to boot thousands of state workers out of collective bargaining units. The Senate will also meet to consider several Quinn appointments, including former Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico as chairman of the State Board of Education and Jay Rowell to direct the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Rowell, who worked for the Senate Democrats’ campaign organization, could run into opposition from Senate Republicans. Bomke pledged to “take a look at the guy based on his merits, not his politics.”