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Illinois Bill Would Pay Reps Only For Days Worked

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Illinois Bill Would Pay Reps Only For Days Worked

Illinois Bill Would Pay Reps Only For Days Worked
December 05
16:04 2019

Most people don’t expect to get paid if they don’t show up for work. No so for Illinois state representatives and senators due to a legal loophole that pays them for an entire month as long as they put in a one-day appearance. That may be about to change.

Illinois Representative Mike Murphy introduced a House Bill in January 2019 that would pay state legislators only for days they actually show up for work.

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Representatives and senators in Illinois earn a minimum annual salary of $28,000 and are paid in 12 equal monthly payments on the last working day of each month.

Currently, state law permits elected legislators to collect a full month’s salary when they hold office for any part of that period. In other words, an Illinois lawmaker can receive a full month’s pay for working just one day. This just happened on November 1, 2019.

State House leadership called for Luis Arroyo to resign after he was charged with bribery. The newly-elected legislator did so but waited until Friday, November 1, to vacate his seat. The man worked that one day – November 1 – but received a paycheck for the whole month.

Springfield resident Julie Johnson called Shenanigans on the waste of taxpayer funds:

“I can’t believe that they got away with that. No one can get away with that, working just one day a month and getting paid for a month. No, that’s totally unfair.”

Murphy agrees that it’s time to resolve this inequity:

“We need some reforms and this a pretty simple reform. The fact that you can work one day and get paid for the entire month is silly.”

Murphy explained how his amendment would affect the current Illinois statutes:

“A member who has held office any part of the month, but not for the entire month, is entitled to compensation only for those days during that month that he or she held office.”

HB 818 proposes to amend the Illinois General Assembly Compensation Act:

“Provides that a member of the General Assembly who has held office any part of a month, but not for the entire month, is entitled to compensation only for those days during that month that he or she held office (currently, entitled to compensation for the entire month). Effective immediately.”

Speaking about Arroyo, Murphy continued:

“We had a representative recently resign the first of the month, so he’s going to be paid for the entire month. He’s going to get medical benefits, you know, insurance for the whole month. One more month will be added to his retirement and it’s just not right.”

Murphy became aware of the no-work-all-pay rule when he stepped into the House seat vacated by Sara Jimenez last January:

“She noticed that because when she took office, she took office at the very end of the month and she got paid for the entire month. It was an issue she was trying to fight for so I carried it on.”

HB 818 has been languishing in the House Rules Committee since March. Murphy has concerns that his bill has yet to be called in committee after 11 months.

Illinois lawmakers pay themselves the fifth-highest base annual salary in the nation. In 2015, Illinois taxpayers footed the bill – nearly $68,000 in base pay – for each state lawmaker. This amount of compensation is considerably larger than what legislators receive in neighboring states and more than double what their peers in Iowa and Indiana earn.

On top of their base salaries, the Illinois state electorate is eligible for generous state-provided health care, dental insurance, and earned pension benefits. Taxpayers also fund per diem (daily) costs and mileage reimbursements when the state chambers are in session.

Illinois lawmakers voted to increase their pay $1,628 in the most recent state budget. After approving a 2.4% cost-of-living increase, the average state salary paid to Illinois legislators is $69,464. Compare that to the national average of $38,434 – almost double.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass a full budget for fiscal year 2016. The group passed only a stopgap budget for fiscal year 2017. Critics accuse state leaders of neglecting the economic oversight they were elected to do while rewarding themselves financially:

“State politicians have done nothing to stop Illinois’ unpaid bills from growing or its credit rating from falling. They’ve failed to pass comprehensive spending, pension and economic reforms to prevent Illinois’ fiscal collapse.”

In 2015, Illinois taxpayers shelled out, on average, a total operating cost for each active Illinois lawmaker in excess of $100,000 – essentially for part-time work. The regular legislative session runs from January to May. Most legislators are employed outside their work in the General Assembly.

But wait, there’s even more expense being shouldered by residents of the Land of Lincoln to pay for their elected officials’ retirements:

“In addition, Illinois taxpayers are forced to pay millions every year to bail out lawmakers’ basically insolvent pension fund. When that cost is added to taxpayers’ annual burden, it turns out they are paying lawmakers 2.5 times – once for lawmakers’ salaries and then the equivalent of 1.5 times salary for lawmakers’ pensions. In total, lawmaker compensation costs Illinois taxpayers more than $32 million a year.”

Murphy plans to reintroduce his bill until action is taken. The next Illinois legislative session will begin in January of 2020.

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