Candidates tell legislators to wait their turn on getting paid -- just like the rest of Illinois
Recent complaints from a state Democrat that Illinois’ lawmakers should get paid despite its statewide financial crisis are proof that current legislators are putting themselves ahead of their constituents, according to local General Assembly candidates.
Republican candidate for House District 46 Heidi Holan and Senate District 49 candidate Michelle Smith responded to Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Dist. 4) after the legislator complained about not being paid.
Lightford said that for lawmakers’ income “to be held for months and months and months” is wrong, and that they should be paid for the work they do.
“We’re not vendors," she said on the Senate floor. "We deserve to get paid."
But the question everyone seems to be asking in retort is: Are you guys actually working in Springfield?
Holan reminded Lightford that the state is still waiting for a long-term budget.
The state has been functioning without a budget for almost a year, and now has roughly $8 billion in bills yet to be paid to the state’s social services providers and firms doing business with Illinois.
"Sen. Lightford’s complaint illustrates a basic difference in the understanding of public service," Holan said. "As a legislator, I would promote policies that would make Illinois a better place to raise families, to own a business, to make a living and to have a good life. Serving the public should benefit the public."
Illinois has now entered its second year without a budget, leaving several vendors without funding.
Smith said the inability of legislators to reach a long-term deal, but still complaining about their own needs is unfair to the residents of Illinois.
"The legislators in Springfield continue to put themselves on a pedestal and believe they deserve more than the citizens of this state," Smith said. "I would hope that not all in Springfield agree with Sen. Lightford's comments that they should be paid before we take care of the vendors in the state who have been waiting for months to be paid, the schools around the state attempting to stay open and the numerous social service agencies struggling to take care of those most in need, I completely agree with Comptroller Leslie Munger's decision to hold on to the paychecks of those in Springfield. They should not be paid for work not completed. Their job of passing a balanced budget is the most important thing that they do and they need to take that seriously."
The state constitution requires a balanced budget at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1. At this point, the only bills being paid by the state are those mandated by court orders.
"Fifteen years of deficit spending by legislators, plummeting credit ratings and climbing unfunded liabilities decry that scenario," Holan said. "The fruit of the labor has been rotten and yet the taxpayers are still required to pay. Enough. Until the fairytale spending ends, the paychecks for legislators should remain on the bottom of the unpaid bill pile."