* A state in recession.
* A government with crippling underfunded pension obligations, considered "worst in the nation."
* State leaders paralyzed by an increasingly bitter, personal family feud prepared to abandon millions of federal dollars for infrastructure repair.
* A HUGE pay raise for said leaders.
One of these things doesn't fit with the others. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn is asking people to tell their legislators what they think about this huge pay raise that they have given themselves with his new Vote Now! Vote No! website.
With the raises, lawmakers would be making $73,000 to $100,000 a year by next summer. Gov. Rod Blagojevich would see his pay climb by more than $20,000 to about $192,000 a year.
Remember, this is an 11.7% increase for a *part time job,* a year after they got a 10% pay increase. Most Illinois legislators have "real" full-time jobs from which they derive considerable income (although some, such as St. Rep. Will Davis, do not). But that's Illinois politics. Getting rich is part of the perk of power here.
It's not quite a done deal -- although the governor and the senate leader would like you to think otherwise. The Illinois House has already rejected the enormous pay increase, and it will be jettisoned if the Illinois Senate does the same in the upcoming special session. While the governor called the special session to score cheap political points, it does give the state senate the opportunity to do the right thing. It should join the state house in rejecting this pay increase when Illinois is struggling to meet its obligations and debts -- and when Illinoisians are struggling to meet the current tax burden levied upon them.
Increased violence in Chicago? No problem, as long as state leaders get their pay raise! The worst roads in the nation? No problem, as long as state leaders get their pay raise! This is, after all, Illinois. The whole point of government in this state is to line the pockets of the connected. And no one is more connected than your state senator!
While you're at it, may as well throw a few dollars at our progressives in Illinois government, those who are fighting the good fight in Springfield, making state government more efficient, effective and transparent, standing up for the "little people" (who I like to call voters) in the state: Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. It's harder for them because they aren't cogs in the machine...
(H/T to Rich Miller's Capitol Fax blog)