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IL Lawmakers Spinning Pay Cuts

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:31:33 CDT
By: IPR's Brian Mackey

In recent years, Illinois lawmakers have required themselves to take 12 unpaid days off every year -- which they can then tout as a pay cut. But that didn't happen this year. As IPR's Brian Mackey reports, some politicians are already trying to make hay out of that.

Twelve days doesn't add up to much -- less than five percent of a lawmaker's $68,000 salary. But after legislative leaders won a lawsuit last year saying the Constitution prohibited the governor from cutting their pay, they decided it probably wasn't a good idea to do it to themselves. Of course, individual lawmakers can still make a stink. Democratic Sen. Mike Frerichs, from Champaign, who's also running for state treasurer, says he'll donate his so-called "extra" pay to charity.

This is a well worn path for politicians. Chris Mooney, who heads the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, says they want to be seen as "just helping out."

"I'm not doing it for the money. I'm doing it just to help the people. Won't somebody think please think of the people and the children and all that. And that's sort of the message that they're trying to send."

Which means, if you live in a place with a competitive election this fall, you'll no doubt be hearing more about politicians' pay.

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