December 10, 2006

D/A fleshes out the retroactive pay raise story

A piece by Scot Reeder in today's D/A fleshes out the recent pay raise approved by the Illinois Senate and which applies to the House as well.

Just after the election, the lawmakers voted themselves a 15% retroactive pay raise, so they can get the raise going back to July but didn't have to be honest about it during the campaign.

Sen. Mike Jacobs is the only local legislator who voted in favor of the pay hike.

Reeder provides a more comprehensive look at legislators entire pay and benefit packages:
* $57,619 base salary, which with the pay raise will rise to $66,607.

* $23,388 stipend to the leaders of the four legislative caucuses.

* $16,810 to $19,731 annual bonus for those holding lesser leadership posts.

* $8,771 for those who are chairman or minority spokesperson on a committee.

* $125 per day payment for every legislator for each day of session. The payment covers meals and lodging, but any leftover funds lawmakers can keep. In 2004, the House met for 68 days, the Senate for 67.

* Reimbursement for driving on official business at a rate of 44 cents per mile.

* State health insurance (The value depends on the type of coverage the lawmaker chooses and the number of dependents placed on the policy.)

* $69,409 allocation to each House member for running a district office.

* $83,063 allocation to each Senator for running a district office.

* A pension that is 85 percent of the top salary earned by a lawmaker, which is paid upon retiring after 20 years. (Retired members are also guaranteed a 3 percent cost of living adjustment each year.)

Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, supported the recent pay hike.

Shortly after the vote he said, "In a world where pitchers make $50 million, my (cost of living adjustment) seems like a pretty small issue. But in the end, I thought my wife, son and I deserved it."
A commenter recently provided an even more real world view of all that legislators have given to them at no expense to themselves:
For starters, Legislators get their base salary. That's the figure reported in the news and is the basis of all the stories about salary increases.

In addition to their base salary, they also get additional pay if they are Chairman of a Committee. I also believe there is an additional salary increase for being in a leadership position.

Additionally, there is per diem for every day that the legislature is in session and the member is in attendance. This is a significant allowance, and most members spend less than their per diem allotment and pocket some profit.

Part of the reason the member is able to pocket some per diem money, is the fact that on a normal session day there's usually some kind of banquet or dinner being put on by a special interest group that offers free food.

Failing that, it's quite common for lobbyists to take legislators to dinner. It depends on the particular legislator's personality, but if a General Assembly member is even mildly outgoing it's likely they will rarely have to buy an evening meal in Springfield.

Additionally, a member of the General Assembly is entitled to a Springfield Secretary. This secretary is a full time state employee who can do legislative work as assigned by the member.

Additionally, official state printing is done for General Assembly members below cost. The member purchases the paper and/or card stock and that is their only expense a member absorbs associated with printing official state materials.

If you get any official state mailing from a General Assembly member, it's also done for the member at less than normal cost. The member pays standard bulk rate postage, but the sorting and other manual labor is done by legislative staff, which is a significant savings compared to using a normal bulk mail firm.

Other legislative staff is assigned to General Assembly members as needed to do radio and news releases for their districts, other's are assigned for special projects and meetings. It depends on the individual, but this can involve another significant taxpayer subsidy for the elected official. I believe the House and Senate Democrats also make available professional photography staff for portraits and pictures with visitors etc.

On top of that the legislators are entitled to an office allotment which pays for their local district office. Senators get a bit more than Representatives because their districts are double the size, but in either case this is a significant sum. The office staff that's there to answer calls and do other work as assigned by their member, and all office expenses associated with the local district office come from this allotment. It's currently in excess of $60,000 per legislator that funds the district office.

The district office allotment can also be used to pay for legislative travel reimbursement, travel to Springfield is covered by per diem, but legislative travel within a district can receive mileage, etc from the district office allotment. I heard that former Rep. Brunsvold even leased a vehicle from his office allotment for official use, but can't personally confirm this detail.

This is pretty close to the full extent of the taxpayer subsidy that a sitting Senator or Representative is entitled to receive, I’m sure there are a few minor details I’ve overlooked, but I believe I’ve covered all the biggies.

Of course none of this even touches the issue of a General Assembly member’s campaign fundraising and use of their war chest for personal benefit, that’s another topic for another time. This topic deserves it’s own discussion because there are few restrictions in Illinois on the use of campaign funds for personal benefit. Some officials, like Brunsvold, were able to keep significant parts of their campaign coffers for use in retirement, but recent ethics legislation has limited that practice to an extent.


At 12/10/2006 12:12 PM, Blogger Carl Nyberg said...

Retroactive pay increases rub me the wrong way.

It seems somehow illegal to have an election and then raise the pay of the legislature for the time period before the election.

At 12/10/2006 4:34 PM, Blogger diehard said...

As I have said before, At least Jacobs is out in front with it! I know that does not make it right, but trust me Verschoore and Boland will take the money while acting holier than thou!
And from some of the votes I have seen, at least from Verschoore they are certainly not worth what they are making!
My point is if you are for a pay raise admit it. If you are for a program to clone the Wolly Mammouth admit be truthful with the people that pay for your fancy dinners and parties and extravigant lifestyle you have.
Courtesy of the taxpayers!

At 12/10/2006 4:38 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Diehard, I see your point, but what about the third option? Voting against it AND refusing to take it?

It's too bad there's not a fourth option, namely to take a modest raise but not accept the retroactive money grab.

At 12/10/2006 9:53 PM, Blogger diehard said...

True, but unfortunatly that is not on the table. Few people elected to public office, with the exception of Lane Evans have both voted against and not accepted pay raises.

At 12/12/2006 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And we seewhat great leadership we get from Evans the best Congressman that we ahve ever seen. We will miss him and all of the great things that he did for us. He was worth his weight in gold.

At 12/14/2006 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we give leaches a pat on their backs because they only sucked a little blood and their victim is still living?

this is such a terrible "spin zone" that warning signs should be posted

why are people excusing Jacob's for openly being greedy while saying the guys who actually voted against the measure are the real problems?

Jocob's thought he deserved a pay increase so he voted for it, he said so. Pat and the "other" Mike weren't comfortable with a retroactive pay increase and voted against it.

If more legislators like Pat and Mike would have stepped up to the plate and not voted for retroactive greed, this pay increase could have ben defeated.


At 12/14/2006 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's wait a few months and see if Boland pockets this cash! Then we can pat him on the head. Until that time it's just a game of "smoke and mirrors" and we really do not know where Pat and Mike stand on this issue!

At 12/14/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 12:59

Amen to that. Sounds sensible.

At 12/15/2006 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Jacobs was very upfront and honest and I believe that we know exactly where he stands on this issue. You may not like that Jacobs will take the raise but one thing you can say about the guy is that he is honest. People have been saying that they want honesty and they get it with Jacobs. I for one think it is refreshing.

At 12/16/2006 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the electorate has been craving honestly greedy and selfish politicians.
There's been just too little of that lately. Real "refreshing".


At 12/16/2006 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting people would rather have DISHONEST, greedy, selfish politicians? Is that your desire? Which is more "refreshing" an honest or dishonest greedy, selfish politcan? Please advise.

At 12/16/2006 10:31 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Ah... it's the old familiar "please advise" guy we all know.

You could always commission a poll on this question, but if you're asking my personal opinion. (I have no idea why everyone wants MY opinion. Why not ask readers in general???) I'd say that's a false choice.

Think really hard.

Can you think of another alternative to the false choices you present?

Or are you asserting that it's a given that all politicians are greedy and selfish, and the only variable is whether they're honest about it?

Or is it just politicians around here that are greedy and selfish, or what?

You're certainly in a position to know, so... is that the case? Please advise.

It's really depressing to realize that it's never occured to you that a polician might be honest as well as un-selfish and not greedy.

At 12/18/2006 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes it is the honesty that makes the boat float. Not just all pols are greedy and selfish it is people in general. Honesty is what seperates us.

What are you saying. Are you not greedy and selfish?

At 12/19/2006 4:08 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

No, I'm not greedy and selfish. Certainly not to the extent that I'd grab that cash with both hands, especially considering it's tax dollars.

But maybe if my entire life had been supported by tax dollars and playing around with them, it wouldn't seem so bad.

At 12/19/2006 10:24 AM, Anonymous Socraties said...

Most politicans do not share you luxery of living with their mothers and sponging off her coin purse. They are real men that stand on their own two feet. Try it some time, it may help you grow!

At 12/19/2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're Jacobs, you live off the public dole and grab for all you can get even though you're barely competent and got the office not through merit but your Dad's connections. I guess that's more honorable? What a joke.

At 12/19/2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacobs won in landslides in both the primary and the general elections.

Yhe people have spoken.


At 12/20/2006 2:58 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Duh indeed.


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