December 4, 2006

Pols pay raise higher than reported, double-standard on COLA for min wage workers

An interesting couple of items from a piece in the D/A:
You may have read stories a couple of weeks ago about lawmakers raising their salaries by 10 percent. Stories last week talked about 15.6 percent raises. Don't be confused. The target figure now is 15.6 percent.

When the Senate approved raises two weeks ago, they adopted a Compensation Review Board report that said lawmaker salaries should go up by about 10 percent. But when it came time to approve money for their salaries, senators added enough cash to cover two other cost-of-living increases not covered by the Compensation Review Board.

If the House and Gov. Rod Blagojevich go along, the total increase will be 15.6 percent, not 10 percent.

Moreover, they are retroactive, meaning lawmakers will get a lump-sum check for several years' worth of back pay, in addition to seeing their current salaries increase.

Nice work if you can get it.
Among local legislators, Sen. Jacobs was the only one who originally voted to approve this giant retroactive payday. Commenters to a previous post on the issue where prone to whining that the poor legislators needed much more money or they'd practically be on food stamps. One even suggested that if they didn't get this bonanza, it would be a "pay cut", in typical political double-speak. (read lies).

An unhealthy salary-envy was also revealed due to the fact that U.S. Representitives get more money than state senators.

And the following note on the minimum wage bill shows a rather ironic twist to those who vote an automatic cost of living increase for themselves, retroactively no less, and how they feel about the same for minimum wage earners.
The original bill hiking the minimum wage in Illinois contained a clause saying the minimum wage would increase every year in the future based on the rate of inflation. The common term for this is an annual cost-of-living increase.

Business groups absolutely hated this provision.

"No other wage earner is guaranteed a raise," Rob Karr of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said at a Senate hearing. "Pay raises should be earned. They should be based on merit."

Just something to keep in mind when you ponder that Illinois lawmakers years ago voted themselves automatic cost-of-living increases based on the rate of inflation.

"Pay raises should be earned. They should be based on merit."
What a novel idea to apply to our elected representives. Think they'd agree?

A commenter provided an unsourced quote reportedly from Jacobs on how he decided his vote on the minimum wage bill. Jacobs supposedly said, "You're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't....I felt a lot of pressure from the unions, so I just closed my eyes and voted for it"

Can anyone provide a source for this supposed quote?

I haven't looked into how the local legislative team voted on the final approval of their retroactive pay raise or the minumum wage bill. Can anyone save me the trouble and let us know how they voted?


At 12/04/2006 10:43 PM, Blogger demgorilla said...

Legislators hadn't had a raise in 4 or 5 years so your constant harping is totally unwarranted.

At 12/04/2006 11:44 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

It's called reporting the news. Go bitch to the newspapers that reported this as well. I'm sure you will, right?

And it's truly sad that you think that even mentioning what our elected representives are doing with tax dollars is "unwarrented". I'm sure you won't be happy until there's nothing out there but happy BS about them, right?

That's good for democracy. Yeesh.

Flack if you must, but don't criticize those who choose not to.

If you think it's just peachy that they voted themselves a RETROACTIVE pay raise, fine. But don't accuse someone who simply reports the facts of "unecessary" "harping".

That's bull.

Is this some Dem dictatorship where it's a sin to report the facts?

Are there some other state elected officials that represent this area that I don't know about? Should I be writing about them instead?

At 12/05/2006 12:17 AM, Blogger Craig said...

Honestly Dope, the lawmakers in the General Assembly make like 60,000. This doesn't seem like an outragous figure. I understand they also get a travel, lodgeing, and food budget, but they are not living the high life.

Maybe they should have gotten a raise. I think if many of the people that could read this blog, including myself, could give themselves their own raise... it would happen a lot more than ever 5 years.

I understand you are just reporting the news, but don't turn into the Dispatch... follow the news that matters. Their fiasco with covering everyday that Lane was home with his illness was disgusting. Then when he returned to DC they put a two paragraph article on page A12. Don't fall into their trap. Pick up a copy of the Times and read some real news.

At 12/05/2006 1:35 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

$60 grand isn't peanuts, and with all the other perks, it comes out to many thousands more. Plus the fact that they can use campaign cash for just about every daily expense one way or another.

There are also likely many, many benefits and special perks which aren't commonly known. More than one person is interested in investigating just what all legislators get as far as services which they don't have to pay for.

Add it all up and it's likely the equivelent of $100 grand a year.

So that's your starting point. Now they want to tack on not a few percent, not 5, not 10, but 15% cold cash.

And perhaps the most outrageous aspect of all is that they're paying themselves RETROACTIVELY, meaning they've gotten along just fine to this point, and now are going to have tens of thousands of dollars just fall into their bank accounts?

What the hell is wrong when people roll over on their backs for this stuff? It stinks to high heaven.

Even if you feel that a pay hike is justified, the amount and the way they're doing it should outrage anyone who gives a damn at all about responsible government.

At 12/05/2006 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading the Jacobs quote. It was in the dispatch. Since they won't let you read their archives without a membership I couldn't find a link, but I do remember reading that and being flabbergasted.

Since that pay is 5-year retro-active, does that mean that Denny will get a hefty increase to his pension (as if a gift of a lobbying job wasn't enough)? I'm guessing he'll get the raise too.

At 12/05/2006 9:53 AM, Anonymous Dr Who said...

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 12/05/2006 11:20 AM, Blogger Robbie C. said...

I don't think the legislators make too much money, but they shouldn't be giving themselves raises when there are other state workers that havent seen a raise in much longer.

At 12/05/2006 11:33 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Dr. Who.

Thank you very much for such pertinent and important information.

It really provides a clearer, and more accurate picture for the public who, after all, is paying for all of this in a time when the state is deep in debt and struggling to pay it's obligations.

I'd add a couple of minor additions to your excellent work.

The per diem as reported in articles about this measure is $150 per day that the legislature is in session.

As you note, they also get a milage allowance, though I've not seen what this is.

I'm aware that at least Jacobs bills the leasing and insurance of his automobile (a Lincoln) to his campaign funds as reported in his campaign finance reports, and Boland drives a Cadillac.

Nothing wrong with driving a nice car, as they do a lot of driving. But it's hard to cry poor when you drive a very nice car.

Again, your comment is very informative and provides the information needed for this matter.

I knew that there were many more perks and "ways of life" issues that ensured that legislators, if they choose, didn't have to pay for much of anything.

Thank you for your insight.

Leaving aside judgement, at least people now have the information needed to make up their own minds as to whether this pay raise is justified, and it also makes it a tad more difficult to try to pull the wool over everyone's eyes by suggesting that legislators are practically forced to eat dog food they're so poor.

It seems that family and houseing expenses are the only thing not directly provided for our representitives in Springfield.

Is the current 60 grand enough for that? Or is a RETROACTIVE 15% increase warrented?

At 12/05/2006 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From an image standpoint, it would probably be wise to drive a slightly less ostentatious personal vehicle, but I see U.A.W. retirees driving similar vehicles, so I can't say it's a terribly egregious error on Boland's part to drive a Caddy.

At 12/05/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I agree. I don't begrudge them having a nice car, as they put an amazing amount of miles on the road in every sort of weather. I know that Boland probably wracks up more miles than the average semi driver.

Especially during campaigns, the milage can be incredible.

But my point is that it's hard to portray them as needy in any way.

At 12/05/2006 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jacobs wife is a pharmacist. That's where the real money is.

A school superintendent makes about twice what a state senator makes.

Hard to believe what some salaries are. I don't make $60,000 a year but I don't think it's ridiculous for a legistlator to make that amount.

At 12/05/2006 1:00 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Does a school superintendent get the multiple thousands of dollars of "extras" listed by Dr. Who above?

Just wondering.

And using the logic and attitude of some commenters here on the Wal-mart thread, if legislators don't like the pay they get, they can look for other employment, right? Free market and all that?

Or does that just apply to minimum wage Wal-mart employees?

At 12/05/2006 3:24 PM, Anonymous The real Dope said...

Yes Dope, school superintendents as do all professionals get these great perks. When the Superintendent goes out of town on business the state pays for his/hers air fair their hotel car rentals and their meals. How much do you think hotel rooms in Springfield goes for or a second house that you only live in for four months out of the year? Have you ever been out of the QC? I am in Sales and I drive a company car and I get my hotel rooms and nice steak dinners payed for by you. When you buy my product which I am sure you and everyone else does they are paying for it. I feel that you must not work in the business world or you might know these facts. I believe that you do know but take every chance you can get to stir the pot as to attract readers to your blog.

I get the Chicago tribune and there was not one comment about this pay raise issue there. You dope make everything so personal. Denny Jacobs may get the cost of living but believe it or not the world is bigger than Mike and Denny Jacobs. This raise is for all of the legislators. Not all have wives or husbands that work. Not all of them live where the housing market is last in the country. Not all of them are Mike and Denny Jacobs. Some live in Chicago where a modest house is $300,000. You try and make a blanket that fits all sizes. When you talk about merrit raise do you mean how much their spouse makes should have weight? Who would decide the merrit pay, you the dope?
It is always little towns that can't understand why progress is passing them by and don't understand why a hog plant is comming and not computer company. Why would a computer company locate to a town with such an issue as to how business works. You get what you deserve and this town deserves a hog plant.

I hope the person giving the merrit pay to you has a broader view of the world.

At 12/05/2006 3:40 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 15:24

I was going to attempt a response, but your thinking is so weird, why bother. It's hopeless.

You have no idea what the word "merit" means and you somehow are under the delusion that taxpayers pay for your hotel and food bills.

What do you sell by the way, besides clap-trap arguments made up on the spot? In that department you're not doing so well.

At 12/05/2006 4:14 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...


I found an editorial from the Rockford Register Star reprinted in the D/A which opposes this pay hike which reports that the per diem paid to legislators every day the legislation is in session is $125. I'd read an earlier piece in a local paper which said it was $150. So, not sure which is correct.

Going by the lower figure, the editorial calculates that if a legislator isn't on any committees or in any leadership position, attends their jobs in the statehouse for 20 days a month for 5 months out of the year, this per diem adds at least $12,500 to their base pay.

Also, the editorial listed the amount senators and reps get for milage as being $0.44.5 cents per mile.

The editorial can be found here. I'm sure DemGorilla will scold the paper for paying unecessary attention to this issue.

At 12/05/2006 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the same newspaper that endorsed the Green Party (who is an avowed socialist) candidate for governor.

I hope you enjoyed your day off~!!!

At 12/05/2006 6:34 PM, Anonymous calypso said...

I just want to point out that the base salary & perqs all apply to a part-time job. My state rep. brags that since he is retired from his previous career, he works "full-time at this part-time job."

At 12/05/2006 7:33 PM, Blogger demgorilla said...

There is a hidden angle to this story that no one in the press has figured out. Jeff Terronez makes around $169,000!! He is a recipient of this retroactive COLA increase. Check out what LuAnn Kerr and other county officials make. We're bitching way way too much about our legislators making $60,000 -- it's time to go to the real fiefdom around here: the county building.

My understanding is that guys like Terronez were part of this increase and he's pushing $170,000 now.

At 12/05/2006 7:35 PM, Blogger demgorilla said...

Yes, I'll go after the Rockford Register Star as well. Legislators who haven't seen a penny incrase in pay in five years deserve a modest increase to keep up with cost of living. Hypocrites and phonies like Mike Boland can vote "against" those increases all day long and then take the increases all they want -- we're on to the oldest shell game in Springfield.

If you vote NO, then don't take the increase. Have the integrity to be consistent with taxpayers.

At 12/05/2006 8:41 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

You mean they were so disappointed with both major party candidates and impressed by the green party guy (Like John Beydler) that they endorsed him?

That sounds like a good independent opinion.

And by socialist, do you mean socialist like much of the United States government?

Socialist like much of the Democratic platform?

There's nothing wrong with socialism in certain respects, and beyond that, I don't think your characterization of the Green party candidate as a pure socialist is correct.

He actually gained a substantial amount of attention and support. I watched him speak at a forum some time during the campaign and was quite impressed myself.

He was far from some radical. Probably why rational, intelligent, and prudent people such as Beydler were impressed.

At 12/05/2006 8:57 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

That is a stack of cash. But then again, Terronez is the chief attorney of the county. Not only does he need to be a proficient lawyer, but he has to administer a large and complex department as well.

I'd point out as well that he works like most normal people, that is, all year, rather than just a few months like legislators. (and yes, I know they work all year, but not necessarily for the public)

But does anyone have any more info on how much county officials earn?

Not that the salaries are out of line, but it would be interesting to know.

When you think about it, it's kind of funny that no one knows how much our county or city officials are paid, considering that we're paying their salaries.

At 12/05/2006 9:01 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

OK DG, fair enough.

But this calling a retroactive 15% increase "modest" requires a bit of imagination.

I'd say it's anything but.

And as that accusation has been made against Boland time and again, I'd ask if anyone knows for certain if Boland is indeed going to take the pay increase?

If that isn't known, I'd humbly suggest that people stop trying to smear him for it.

So I guess trying to stop the pay increase by voting against it, even if it's only symbolically, and then taking it when it's dumped in your lap would be very bad.

But voting for the increase and grabbing it with both hands is .... good?

At 12/05/2006 9:22 PM, Anonymous LaborParty said...

Rich Whitney became a mamaber of the Socialist Labor Party in 1975 and practiced the dark craft until he joined the Green Party in 1999. For you to accept his Marxist theory so firmly to your bossom makes me wonder if you are not a fellow travler?

First you wage a smear campaign against the President of the United States and then you go out of your way to praise a Marxist. What is that?

Do you have no loyalty to your own country? If I didn't know better I would think your are of Arian descent. Was or is anyone in your family a member of the communist party?

At 12/05/2006 10:01 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Labor, you'd sure make Hitler proud.

You sound more like a communist ideologue than any Green party candidate.

"Fellow traveller"?? "Marxist"

Boy are you full of shit.

At 12/06/2006 10:31 AM, Anonymous Dr Who said...

It's probably true that our state legislator’s salaries are "modest" when compared to some other elected officials. But, rather than trying to justify one official by using another politician, I think it would be wise to look at how much compensation we are paying for ALL the government officials who are on the taxpayer dole.

In Rock Island County we have something like 25 county board members, all get salaries and per diem and benefits (the benefits - like health care - are the biggie!) In Scott County Iowa there are something like 1/5th that number of "County Supervisors" for a larger population, and I sure don't see where the Iowa side is worse off for any “lack” of representation.

Then there are all of our Townships here in Illinois. Township Supervisor is a pretty plum position from what I hear, and Clerk and Trustee aren’t too bad either. All taxpayers pay for the salaries of Clerks and Road Commissioners and Trustees for Township Government, but Township Government can hardly be said that they provide any essential service that couldn't be provided by Municipalities or Counties.

The bottom line fact is that we have more levels of government and more elected officials on the taxpayer dole in Illinois than anywhere else in the country, and it's hard to make too strong a case that ANY of them are under-paid if compared to a state legislator somewhere like Iowa.

At 12/06/2006 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey dope, let's look at this realistically. You want a cost of living raise, fine, I can live with that. But to make the raise 15% (way higher than typical COLA's which are 2.5 - 3.5%) RETROACTIVE doesn't make any sense! If they were "making up for lost time" as they suggest, than why wouldn't they offer a 2.5 - 3.5% retroactive raise?

Whoever authored this legislation has some flawed logic. Let's assume legislators haven't had a raise in 5 years, and the going rate for a COLA is 3%. 5 years times 3% equals 15%; that much is correct. But the inherent flaw is that in year 1 of 5, they would have only had a 3% raise, the same for year 2 of 5, and so on. Why will they be paid like they had a 15% increase in year 1 of 5? The numbers don't make sense.

At 12/06/2006 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just checked and the hotel rate for an in session Hoiday Inn Express is $145 a night in Springfield. I know that $125 seems like a lot of money to you but for anyone that travels for business you will see that it is not. The rate in Chicago is $225 for the Holiday Inn.
Dope you need to get out of the area and chek out what is going on. If my company gave me $125 a night for expenses I would quit and find another company to work for.

What are you thinking???

At 12/07/2006 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 6/12/06 12:19 it is in the constitution. The raise was this much because they voted to not accept it for several years and there is a roll over for lack of a better word that mnandates it. If theay had not gotten the raise this time then the COLA the next time would have been 17-19%. It really isn't so hard to understand.

At 12/08/2006 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am for the Legislators getting the raise. Anything we can do to attract and retain good leaders is alright in my book.

At 12/09/2006 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We wouldn't have Congressman Hare if we didn't pay him $156,000 a year. If we want the best we have to pay them for their service!

At 12/09/2006 5:48 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Is that so? Did Hare say he wouldn't run if it weren't for the money? Somehow I doubt it.

At 12/12/2006 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes he did say this. Do you think that he is auper elite person that has his own trust fund to live on? No Hare is a person like me that has to make money to live. He is a great man that needs the money. If not he would give it back and we do not see him doingthat now do we. Youake your elitist form of govenrment where only the indipendintly wealthy can afford to be our leaders. I will stay right here in the good old USA.

At 12/12/2006 5:22 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

"Hare says he's in it for the money"

That should be tomorrow's headline if what you say is true. But somehow I don't think it's quite that way.

At 12/13/2006 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you saying Congressman Hare doesn't deserve $167,000 a year. Hare has done so much for our area. He got real good committee assigments and was already on the Stevn Obare Show. Wait till they doa whole segement on Phil then you will see why he gets paid the big bucks.

Your notion that Congressman Hare is a rich man and doesn't need the $165,000 a year is wrong.

At 12/13/2006 8:45 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

NO, I'm not saying any of that, as anyone who can read and possesses a half functioning brain can tell. Unfortunately, you apparently don't fall into those catagories.

The fact that you're apparently not capable of writing anything but goofy and unbelievable straw man arguments and then trying to distort my views or statements is why your stuff gets dumped on sight.


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