State

Pritzker uses own money to hike staff salaries

Illinois Gov.elect J.B. Pritzker speaks Nov. 6 in Chicago after his victory over Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Illinois Gov.elect J.B. Pritzker speaks Nov. 6 in Chicago after his victory over Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner.

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ incoming billionaire governor has announced plans to use his own money to double the salaries of several key staffers, a move aimed at helping retain top talent.

Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker created East Jackson Street LLC to personally compensate staffers in addition to their government salaries. Lawmakers approved legislation earlier this week aimed at helping the incoming governor to increase salaries.

“The governor-elect is committed to recruiting top talent to state government to best address the challenges Illinois faces,” said Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh, comparing the move to that of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Pritzker’s chief of staff, three deputy governors and their special assistants, deputy chiefs of staff and other high-level employees will receive the double salaries. Overall, it will apply to 20 positions, including some that have not been filled.

With the extra pay, Pritzker chief of staff Anne Caprara would receive $148,000 from the state and $150,000 from Pritzker’s company for a total salary of $298,000.

Staffers who receive the additional pay must report it along with other public disclosures.

The pay raise information comes as Pritzker has filled more Cabinet positions ahead of his Monday inauguration, and his choices include several women and show a bipartisan approach.

Before the Legislature wrapped up its two-year session, the House and the Senate endorsed a measure to allow Pritzker to raise salaries by 15 percent for those in his Cabinet, including the director of prisons, the transportation secretary and the directors of other agencies governing human services, health care, the environment and more.

Pritzker said Illinois salaries for agency directors and assistant directors aren’t competitive.

Critics complained that nonunion middle managers have dealt with salary freezes for 15 or more years. They said the state can’t afford higher pay when there’s a $130 billion hole in what the state owes to its pension systems.

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