Illinois House passes bill to repeal pay raise for state legislators

The Illinois House approved legislation Tuesday that would repeal the 2 percent automatic cost-of-living adjustment that lawmakers recently received and is set to take effect this month.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan was the lead sponsor for House Bill 576, which passed the Illinois House on Tuesday with a 101-1 vote.

The vote followed a tense floor debate during which Republicans asked Madigan why their own efforts months ago to block the raise never were allowed to come to a vote.

Madigan said the raise is just a small piece of what he called a “historic struggle” between the majority Democrats in the Legislature and the new GOP governor.

“We’ve made a good faith effort to meet the governor halfway. His response? ‘I have to have my agenda, as is, no change. If I get it, I’ll talk,’ ” Madigan said. “We are in an impasse. We are involved in a historic struggle.”

A budget for the fiscal year that started July 1 has not yet been approved. The state is facing a deficit of up to $4 billion.

Rauner said in a statement he is ready to work with the Legislature on “true structural reforms and a balanced budget.”

He also urged the Senate to pass House Bill 576.

One of the lead co-sponsors of the bill, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said it is “absolutely outrageous that members of the General Assembly should get a pay increase” when the state has not yet passed a budget.

“They should lock us in the capital until we pass a budget without a tax increase,” McSweeney said. He said that without passage of a budget, social service agencies are starting to feel the pressure.

Local Reps. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, Barbara Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake, and Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, also voted in favor of the legislation.

McSweeney already has donated the $1,563, the amount of money the 2 percent automatic cost-of-living adjustment would add up to annually.

Half of the money went to the McHenry County Pioneer Center for Human Services, a nonprofit that helps economically disadvantaged and disabled people; and half went to The Night Ministry, a nonprofit that helps the homeless.

McSweeney also has cut his own pay and district office budget by 10 percent, according to a news release, and is not going to accept his paychecks until a budget is decided on.

Earlier this year, McSweeney introduced House Bill 1313, which called for eliminating cost-of-living adjustments for legislators and forces them to take furlough days, according to a news release.

A spokeswoman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton said he has “deep reservations” about whether the state constitution allows lawmakers to block the automatic pay raise, but said Cullerton will call a floor vote on the legislation sometime next week.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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