Wednesday, July 29, 2015

No pay raise for Illinois legislators? Fat chance that will wind up happening

It has been an ongoing debate, of sorts.

The General Assembly’s members shouldn’t be getting any pay raise (a cost of living adjustment, actually) while they are unable to come to agreement on a budget for state government’s current fiscal year (which actually began 29 days ago).

GOV. BRUCE RAUNER has tried to make an issue out of this point, hoping he can make the legislators appear to be greedy and self-serving enough that public opinion will force them to go along with all the anti-organized labor measures he wants before he signs off on any state budget.

He went so far as to have press secretary Lance Trover (he has a fancier title, but his job is to speak for the governor) issue a statement Tuesday morning keeping up the attack.

“As we approach the end of the month, (Illinois House) Speaker (Michael) Madigan and the politicians he controls have one final chance to side with Republicans and make a clean up-or-down vote on stopping themselves from getting an automatic pay increase,” he said.

“After passing a $4 billion unbalanced budget and refusing to work with Gov. Rauner on turning this state around, the last thing the speaker and his allies deserve is a pay raise,” Trover said. “That is why the speaker should call up the Republican bill – without any poison pills or gimmicks – that will stop him and the politicians he controls from receiving a pay raise.”

EXCUSE ME FOR thinking this statement is going to come across as too self-serving for anyone in the public to take seriously. Except for the ideologues who aren’t about to let any facts get in the way of their viewpoint.
RAUNER: Penalizing insolent legislators?
Part of it is that the pay raise issue comes up so often that government officials aren’t phased by it anymore.

This isn’t technically an increase in the salary themselves – it is an implementation of the cost of living adjustment that is meant to keep salaries for government employees in line with the actual cost of things that people need to buy in order to live.

The salary that Madigan received back when he was a freshman legislator from the Southwest Side back in the early 1970s would be regarded as piss-poor and near poverty level these days. Even though I doubt Madigan was starving back then.
MADIGAN: Playing politics, or not?
HE CERTAINLY ISN’T anywhere near poverty level now, what with his legal practice making him a wealthy man in his own right (although he is a financial peasant compared to Rauner’s income level).

So cost-of-living adjustments aren’t radical in-and-of themselves. In fact, state law provides for them, and also requires that all state employees get the same increase. It is meant to depoliticize the process.

After all, it wouldn’t be proper if government officials could give raises or increases to only certain officials – the ones who were favored, while those who were opponents would get nothin’.

So excuse me for thinking that what Rauner is seeking is for a financial penalty for those pesky legislators who just won’t jump to attention whenever he barks out an order!!! It might be the way a tyrannical CEO operates, but it’s not democratic government at work.

ALTHOUGH I’M ALSO going to admit that it is tacky for legislators to be getting a pay raise at a time when government operations are all bungled up due to the inactivity. It probably is why the Illinois House took a vote in favor of Rauner's request, while the state Senate said it wants to continue to debate the issue -- which means nothing will happen.

Instead of worrying about denying pay hikes, what needs to happen is the governmental activity that should have taken place a couple of months ago – pass the state budget that details how existing funds are to be spent so that government business can carry on the way it is supposed to.

That means working together; including the governor. Who needs to get serious about the business of governing instead of having his staff issue silly, self-serving statements such as his latest rant on Tuesday!


No comments: