The Illinois Senate reconvened Wednesday to vote on a handful of measures, including a 4.6 percent cut in their own pay.
Four senators voted against the pay cut measure, while an overwhelming majority of 48 voted to pass it, according to the Chicago News Cooperative. The bill would force senators and representatives to take one unpaid furlough day a month, costing the lawmakers $3,100 a year. Their base salary is currently just under $68,000 annually.
Predictably, its sponsor, Democrat Dan Kotowski, described the measure as an attempt on the part of the General Assembly to feel the pain of those agencies whose budgets are being slashed amid a massive state deficit. “The message that this sends today is that ... we’re willing to sacrifice for the second year in a row,” Kotowski said in the State Journal-Register, referring to a similar measure that passed last year.
The one Republican who voted against the bill, Tom Johnson of Wheaton, said the bill was little more than political grandstanding. "This is somewhat pandering to an electorate ... when we haven't been able to cut the budget," he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Annazette Collins, a Democratic lawmaker from Chicago, opposed the bill for different reasons. Illinois Statehouse News reports that it was personal for Collins: "I could do it for free if I was rich, but I'm not," she reportedly said. "And I have mouths to feed. I have myself to take care of. And I'm not going to pretend that I am rich and that I can do it for free."
The state senate adjourned its business at the end of last month, but it came back for an extra session this week to handle outstanding business. Primarily, it convened to extend funding to Illinois's statewide road construction program, a matter that Senate Democratic leaders had been hoping to leverage to add additional spending to next year's budget. They failed in that attempted maneuver.