Illinois lawmaker pay raises, per diem and mileage increase cut in amendatory veto
The last time an Illinois governor interfered with pay for members of the General Assembly, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued and won.
That was in the summer of 2013, when then-Gov. Pat Quinn suspended all pay for lawmakers until they delivered him a pension reform bill to sign. Quinn lost in court when the judge ruled, to no one’s surprise, that Illinois law requires any changes to lawmakers’ pay to be executed by statute. The law is good one and is designed to prevent the kind of retaliatory pay action that Quinn attempted.
On Wednesday, as thousands of state employees wondered when they’d see their next paycheck, Gov. Bruce Rauner used his amendatory veto power to cancel Illinois lawmaker pay raises that were scheduled to begin with the new fiscal year. The raises were included in a bill passed in 2014 that ensured that lawmaker paychecks would continue to be issued regardless of whether there is a budget in place at the start of a new fiscal year.
Rauner’s action was far more nuanced than Quinn’s 2013 outright halt of lawmakers’ paychecks. He removed only the pay raise provision from the bill that authorized implementation of the 2014 law.
“Illinois legislators are already among the highest paid in the United States, earning $68,000 to $95,000 per year for part-time service, plus per diem payments and mileage reimbursement,” Rauner wrote in his veto message. “Without the change recommended below, legislators would receive raises ranging from $1,356 to $1,905 for Fiscal Year 2016 and increases in both the per diem amount and mileage reimbursement rate.”
Arriving at the height of a budget standoff that has state employees continuing to work knowing they may not be paid for the foreseeable future, Rauner’s move was a brilliant political move. It not only gave him an official platform to complain about financial disarray that followed 12 years of governance by Democrats, but it also gave him a valuable score in the fight for public opinion he’s been waging with Madigan for more than a month.
The fact that the law may not be on his side here is irrelevant.
The bigger question: What lawmaker right now will be willing to be a plaintiff in the lawsuit that seeks restoration of those statutorily guaranteed raises? Precedent says it will be a slam dunk victory in a court of law. But the jury in the court of public opinion won’t be so kind.
Here’s Rauner’s full veto message:
To the Honorable Members of The Illinois Senate, 99th General Assembly:
Today I return Senate Bill 1354, one of several budget implementation bills, with a specific recommendation for change.
After a decade of mismanagement, the State of Illinois is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis. The State is suffering from a debt burden well in excess of $100 billion.
Instead of acknowledging this reality, the General Assembly passed an unbalanced and unconstitutional budget for Fiscal Year 2016. Last week I vetoed 19 of those appropriation bills and have asked the General Assembly to work with me to craft a balanced budget.
A balanced budget requires shared sacrifice. My Administration has reduced State personnel costs among agencies under my jurisdiction by $4 million during the first four full months (February through May) of this year, compared to the same period last year.
Under these circumstances, the State cannot afford to give legislators a raise. Illinois legislators are already among the highest paid in the United States, earning $68,000 to $95,000 per year for part-time service, plus per diem payments and mileage reimbursement. Without the change recommended below, legislators would receive raises ranging from $1,356 to $1,905 for Fiscal Year 2016 and increases in both the per diem amount and mileage reimbursement rate.
I recommend that Senate Bill 1354 be changed to eliminate raises for legislators, elected officers of the Executive Branch, and agency directors and other highly compensated State officials, and to freeze the per diem amount and mileage reimbursement rate. Budget implementation bills must give us the tools to implement a balanced and realistic budget, and this change is an important step in closing our budget deficit. A similar provision has been enacted for each of the past six fiscal years.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(e) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 1354, entitled “AN ACT concerning State government”, with the following specific recommendation for change:
On page 1, immediately below line 4, by inserting:
“Section 5-1. The General Assembly Compensation Act is amended by changing Section 1 as follows:
(25 ILCS 115/1) (from Ch. 63, par. 14)
Sec. 1. Each member of the General Assembly shall receive an annual salary of $28,000 or as set by the Compensation Review Board, whichever is greater. The following named officers, committee chairmen and committee minority spokesmen shall receive additional amounts per year for their services as such officers, committee chairmen and committee minority spokesmen respectively, as set by the Compensation Review Board or, as follows, whichever is greater: Beginning the second Wednesday in January 1989, the Speaker and the minority leader of the House of Representatives and the President and the minority leader of the Senate, $16,000 each; the majority leader in the House of Representatives $13,500; 6 assistant majority leaders and 5 assistant minority leaders in the Senate, $12,000 each; 6 assistant majority leaders and 6 assistant minority leaders in the House of Representatives, $10,500 each; 2 Deputy Majority leaders in the House of Representatives $11,500 each; and 2 Deputy Minority leaders in the House of Representatives, $11,500 each; the majority caucus chairman and minority caucus chairman in the Senate, $12,000 each; and beginning the second Wednesday in January, 1989, the majority conference chairman and the minority conference chairman in the House of Representatives, $10,500 each; beginning the second Wednesday in January, 1989, the chairman and minority spokesman of each standing committee of the Senate, except the Rules Committee, the Committee on Committees, and the Committee on Assignment of Bills, $6,000 each; and beginning the second Wednesday in January, 1989, the chairman and minority spokesman of each standing and select committee of the House of Representatives, $6,000 each. A member who serves in more than one position as an officer, committee chairman, or committee minority spokesman shall receive only one additional amount based on the position paying the highest additional amount. The compensation provided for in this Section to be paid per year to members of the General Assembly, including the additional sums payable per year to officers of the General Assembly shall be paid in 12 equal monthly installments. The first such installment is payable on January 31, 1977. All subsequent equal monthly installments are payable on the last working day of the month. A member who has held office any part of a month is entitled to compensation for an entire month.
Mileage shall be paid at the rate of 20 cents per mile before January 9, 1985, and at the mileage allowance rate in effect under regulations promulgated pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 5707(b)(2) beginning January 9, 1985, for the number of actual highway miles necessarily and conveniently traveled by the most feasible route to be present upon convening of the sessions of the General Assembly by such member in each and every trip during each session in going to and returning from the seat of government, to be computed by the Comptroller. A member traveling by public transportation for such purposes, however, shall be paid his actual cost of that transportation instead of on the mileage rate if his cost of public transportation exceeds the amount to which he would be entitled on a mileage basis. No member may be paid, whether on a mileage basis or for actual costs of public transportation, for more than one such trip for each week the General Assembly is actually in session. Each member shall also receive an allowance of $36 per day for lodging and meals while in attendance at sessions of the General Assembly before January 9, 1985; beginning January 9, 1985, such food and lodging allowance shall be equal to the amount per day permitted to be deducted for such expenses under the Internal Revenue Code; however, beginning May 31, 1995, no allowance for food and lodging while in attendance at sessions is authorized for periods of time after the last day in May of each calendar year, except (i) if the General Assembly is convened in special session by either the Governor or the presiding officers of both houses, as provided by subsection (b) of Section 5 of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution or (ii) if the General Assembly is convened to consider bills vetoed, item vetoed, reduced, or returned with specific recommendations for change by the Governor as provided in Section 9 of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution. For fiscal year 2011 and for session days in fiscal years 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and 2016 only (i) the allowance for lodging and meals is $111 per day and (ii) mileage for automobile travel shall be reimbursed at a rate of $0.39 per mile.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, beginning in fiscal year 2012, travel reimbursement for General Assembly members on non-session days shall be calculated using the guidelines set forth by the Legislative Travel Control Board, except that fiscal year 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and 2016 mileage reimbursement is set at a rate of $0.39 per mile.
If a member dies having received only a portion of the amount payable as compensation, the unpaid balance shall be paid to the surviving spouse of such member, or, if there be none, to the estate of such member.
(Source: P.A. 97-71, eff. 6-30-11; 97-718, eff. 6-29-12; 98-30, eff. 6-24-13; 98-682, eff. 6-30-14.)
Section 5-2. The Compensation Review Act is amended by adding Section 6.3 as follows:
(25 ILCS 120/6.3 new)
Sec. 6.3. FY16 COLAs prohibited. Notwithstanding any former or current provision of this Act, any other law, any report of the Compensation Review Board, or any resolution of the General Assembly to the contrary, members of the General Assembly, State’s attorneys, other than the county supplement, elected executive branch constitutional officers of State government, and persons in certain appointed offices of State government, including the membership of State departments, agencies, boards, and commissions, whose annual compensation previously was recommended or determined by the Compensation Review Board, are prohibited from receiving and shall not receive any increase in compensation that would otherwise apply based on a cost of living adjustment, as authorized by Senate Joint Resolution 192 of the 86th General Assembly, for or during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015.”.
With this change, Senate Bill 1354 will have my approval. I respectfully request your concurrence.
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