Local Editorials

Our view: Irresponsible decision on pay raises

“It’s just drip, drip, drip on the spending side and nothing on the reform side. It’s a void in leadership,” Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady said.

“Doling out hundreds of state pay raises – as high as $40,000 – while families suffer under massive unemployment, and vital service providers are forced to shut their doors and deny necessary services is the height of irresponsibility and mismanagement,” Republican state Sen. Bill Brady said while campaigning for governor.

Those statements were offered in various GOP responses to pay raises that Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, gave his staffers in the past 15 months.

How could the governor give staff raises when the state’s fiscal situation was such a mess and people in the private sector were struggling to keep jobs? Republicans asked that question. Democrats asked that question. Residents asked that question.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot.

An analysis of payroll records released this week by the Better Government Association, a Chicago-based nonprofit, shows Republican State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has awarded 19 pay raises to staff members, averaging 16 percent, and Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka gave raises of at least 3 percent to 56 staffers and up to 15 percent to a handful of employees.

Rutherford and Topinka have been critical of government spending. But they defended the pay raises, saying that staffers were doing more with less and that their offices haven’t increased spending, just moved money around.

You know, the same thing Quinn said when defending the raises he doled out.

Private-sector employees can tell you all about doing more or less. Many of them don’t get pay raises. And those who do, don’t get them at the taxpayers’ expense.

Staffers in Rutherford and Topinka’s offices might deserve more money. Many workers deserve more money.

But now is not the time for state workers to be getting more money. The state can’t pay its bills, thousands of people can’t find jobs, and those who do have jobs are struggling to keep them.

Giving pay raises to state workers demonstrates political tone deafness. That was the case when Quinn did. It’s still the case now that Rutherford and Topinka have done it.

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