CHICAGO
03/09/2012 10:15 am ET

Illinois Lawmakers Pay Raise Freezes, Cuts Approved By State Senate, Await House Vote

Legislation that would cut state lawmaker salaries and freeze raises otherwise outlined in Governor Pat Quinn's budget proposal advanced Thursday to the state House floor.

The bill, proposed by state Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), was passed unanimously by the state Senate and is slated for consideration by the state House of Representatives, the Associated Press reports.

Cutting some $3,100 from each state lawmaker's salary, the plan marks lawmakers' fourth straight year of pay cuts and is expected to save the state approximately $900,000, according to the AP.

Kotowski, chairman of one of the state Senate's budgetary committees, said of his legislation that "in these economic times, public servants must sacrifice."

"It is clear that families and businesses across Illinois are doing more with less. As servants of these taxpayers we need to do the same," Kotowski said in a statement.

Quinn's proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 included a $1,400 raise for Secretary of State Jesse White, a $1,200 raise for State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and a $1,600 raise for himself. Each of the state House representatives and senators were slated for salary increases of $620 and $630 respectively.

In response to the pay freeze approval, state Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) pointed out that the legislation only applies to members of the state General Assembly -- not the governor's nor other state officials' slated raises. He is urging Gov. Quinn to follow the state Senate's lead and cut his salary.

"Every dollar we save is a dollar we can spend on higher priorities like education, programs to help low-income seniors and children and economic development programs that help private companies create jobs," Koehler said in a statement.

The $900,000 savings from the salary freezes and cuts are only a very small part of the larger budget picture for the state of Illinois.

Last week, the state House approved a state revenue projection $200 million lower than the governor's prediction and the state Senate on Wednesday approved a similar revenue cap, Illinois Statehouse News reports.

The General Assembly's lowered expectations mean that more cuts lie ahead as the state looks to pull itself out of a budget deficit most recently estimated at $500 million and begin paying down its multi-billion dollar backlog of unpaid bills -- of which the state has many to choose from.

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