By JIM MORAN for THE ILLINOIS RADIO NETWORK
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) — A group of state lawmakers has proposed legislation that would put an end automatic cost of living pay increases for Illinois legislators.
State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, is one of the chief co-sponsors of House Bill 3910. He said state lawmakers are already paid enough.
“We need to be dialing back pay, not increasing pay for lawmakers,” he said.
He said the proper way for lawmakers to get a pay raise is for the legislature to vote on the increase.
“The right way to do it is to just remove them permanently and people should have to put their name on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ whether they support a pay increase for themselves before they face the voters in the next election,” he said.
Members of the Illinois General Assembly are paid nearly $68,000 a year plus a per diem. Some make additional income from committee and leadership stipends.
The existing law gives automatic cost-of-living pay raises to state senators and representatives each year, unless they pass legislation to stop it. Illinois lawmakers did not act in May to stop the automatic raises. Batinick said that inaction resulted in a $1,600 pay raise for each of the 177 members of the Illinois General Assembly.
Batinick said he wants to require the legislature to vote on the raises.
“When it comes to the State of Illinois, anything that affects the fiscal picture or our taxpayer dollars needs to be considered,” he said in a statement. “This law was initially adopted in 1980, and we cannot continue to accept this as the status quo.”
Batinick said eliminating the automatic raises doesn’t go far enough.
“Illinois lawmakers are among the highest-paid lawmakers in the nation, at the state level,” he said. “I don’t think we’re getting better service than they get in other states, looking at our record.”
If the proposal were to become law, it would phase out the automatic raises on or after July 1, 2020. It would also mean General Assembly pension benefits would not automatically increase either.
The bill is awaiting action in the House Rules Committee.