CHICAGO
07/18/2011 04:06 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2011

Jesse White Pay Raises: Amid Statewide Wage Freezes, White's Staffers Got Salary Increases

In the public sector, times are tough all over -- unless you happen to be a member of the inner circle of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

An investigation by Crain's Chicago Business and the Better Government Association has revealed that White's entire executive staff received pay raises of over 6 percent in the twelve months between June 2010 and May 2011. Those pay raises cost taxpayers around $78,000 per month, or just shy of $1 million a year.

The news comes as public employees across the state have been under pay freezes for years, and many more have seen promised raises revoked.

In Chicago, the city's teachers union was told by the new schools leadership that their scheduled four percent raises for the coming school year would be cancelled. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel has threatened the city's unions with 625 layoffs if they don't meet his demands for a series of work-rule changes that would eat into the wages of a vast swath of the city's workers, from garbagemen to truck drivers to machine operators.

On the state level, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that Governor Pat Quinn illegally revoked the two-percent raises due its members on July 1.

White's executive staff felt no such pain. Those non-union workers -- policymakers, supervisors, and clerical assistants -- received a four-percent raise and another two-percent raise during the last twelve months.

By comparison, Crain's writes:

453 non-union staffers for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have not received a raise since 2006, except for those who have been promoted.

Non-union workers in agencies that report directly to Mr. Quinn have taken as many as 24 unpaid furlough days in recent years and have received no raises since Mr. Quinn succeeded Rod Blagojevich in early 2009, excepting promotions, according to his office.

The story is similar at City Hall: no raises since 2008 for non-union supervisors and up to 24 unpaid furlough days a year.

No one on White's executive staff has taken a furlough day in years, except for the Secretary of State himself, who takes one voluntary day of unpaid vacation every month.

The Crain's/BGA report also details the significant clout on the staff: 25 of the top 32 salaries in the group have donated significant cash to White's campaign fund or the 27th Ward Democrats, a body he controls.

According to ABC, White's office has refused to comment on the report, but a spokesman argues that the raises were paid for by cuts elsewhere, including spending on out-of-town travel and cell phones.