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Illinois State Lawmakers Getting Pay Raises Despite Budget Troubles

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Despite the state's dire financial situation, as outlined last month in Democratic Governor Pat Quinn's budget address, lawmakers in Springfield are still getting pay raises.

As Central Illinois Proud reports, the governor's proposed budget includes raises for dozens of elected officials and other state leaders -- including himself -- as part of an existing law, the governor explained, that adjusts legislative salaries for standards of living. In fiscal year 2012, raises were frozen, but Quinn has not proposed similar action in his latest budget.

Under the proposal, Quinn will see his salary increased $1,600 to $179,100, while Secretary of State Jesse White and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford are also slated for raises of $1,400 and $1,200 respectively, the paper reports. Further, each of the members of the state House of Representatives and state Senate will net salary increases of $620 and $630 respectively.

Quinn's 2013 budget plan called for layoffs, cuts to state agencies and the closure of several state facilities, including many correctional facilities. He also said the state needs to trim $2.7 billion from its Medicaid spending.

"This budget contains truths you may not want to hear. But these are truths that you do need to know. And I believe you can handle the truth," the governor said of his plan, which he further described as a "rendezvous with reality."

Jim Oberweis, one of three Republican candidates vying for State Senate in the 25th District, said the proposed pay raises "[give] us one more reason to support term limits -- because only out-of-touch career politicians could hatch this scheme," Illinois Review reports.

"We should refer to it [Gov. Quinn's proposed budget] as a 'date with deception,'" Overweis said. "Perhaps we should now refer to it as an 'outing with the outrageous.' This is no time for legislators to be voting themselves a pay increase."

State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said that the proposed raises are indicative of the governor's "misplaced priorities."

"Lately the Governor has been saying Illinoisans need to sacrifice to help deal with the budget crisis. Apparently he believes that sacrifice applies to everyone except himself and top state officials," Syverson said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Chicago News Cooperative reported this week that, on top of their salaries, lawmakers in the Illinois House of Representative made an additional $661,000 last year through their work as committee officers -- including several committees which met fewer than five times.

Out of the 46 committees and more than a dozen subcommittees operated by the House, five met three or less times last year -- in 2009 and 2010, more than 20 committees met three or fewer times. Committee chairmen and spokesmen are paid a $10,326 stipend each -- bumping their salaries, currently capped at $67,836, considerably, according to the CNC.

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