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Illinois lawmakers sneak pay raise into budget

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Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. (Photo via Good Free Photos)

SPRINGFIELD — Lawmakers managed to sneak in a 2.4% pay raise with the Illinois state budget passed last weekend.

The Associated Press reported that the $39.9 billion budget the House adopted Saturday, followed by the Senate on Sunday, includes a 2.4% cost-of-living adjustment in legislators’ base salary of $67,836, an increase of $1,600 a year.

From the Associated Press

It would be the first pay increase for lawmakers since 2008 and would take effect July 1, if Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the budget agreement, which all 19 Senate Republicans opposed because of the pay raise.

“If we think we deserve one, then stand up and say it,” said Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican who was the first to point out the missing COLA freeze to majority Democrats. “Don’t try to slip it through in the last hours of session, because that’s what people resent.”

Lawmakers are due annual cost-of-living increases unless legislation blocks them. For a decade, budget legislation has included language to freeze salaries.

During Friday night’s budget debate, sponsoring Democratic Sen. Heather Steans was surprised when Righter pointed out that the agreed-to COLA freeze was absent. Senate Democrats reversed the omission by adding the prohibition to another bill they sent to the House, but the House took no action.

“You should go and ask the House why they didn’t pass the bill that we sent them,” Steans said.

Pritzker, at a celebratory end-of-session news conference in his state Capitol office, declined to say whether lawmakers who believe they deserve a pay raise should do so in a more open fashion.

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