Ives on legislative committees: Nice work if you don't have to do it
Every Illinois legislator who heads a subcommittee is paid an additional $10,326 per year – even if the panel never meets, according to state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).
Ives provided the DuPage Policy Journal with a report from the General Assembly’s Legislative Research Unit (LRU) outlining the costs of compensating lawmakers in Illinois. She described committee leader pay as a way for the Democratic majority to maintain control.
“We’re an outlier on the amount of ... chairpersons are paid to chair committees,” she said. “The level of work done in committees is very minimal for most. These are simply loyalty payments to certain members to keep them doing the speaker’s bidding.”
An Illinois legislator’s annual base salary is $67,836 per year. If they are called back for a special session, like the one recently called to work on a state budget, they get an additional $111 per day. They also receive mileage pay and office allowances.
According to an analysis conducted by Ives' office, committees in both Illinois chambers meet an average of nine times per year. Regardless of how often they meet – or if they don't meet at all – the chairperson is paid the additional $10,326.
Ives said she has tried to get compensation limited to $100 per meeting, which “is more than enough,” in the hopes of fighting what she sees as "loyalty payments" to House Speaker Michael Madigan's (D-Chicago) political network in Springfield.
The LRU report also shows that Senate members are granted $83,063 and House members get $69,409 for office staffing, district office operations and related expenses. The figures are considerably higher than what is provided in comparably sized and larger states, according to the report.
In a copy of a "Loyalty" report Ives wrote, she described the overall extras provided to lawmakers as out of control.
"These stipends are excessive and unnecessary," she wrote. "Committee meetings are part of the lawmaking process. Therefore, service on a committee is a part of a lawmaker’s job. Even more significant is the fact that most important legislation, including budget bills, are pushed through at the last minute by the House Executive Committee with nary a discussion, making a mockery of the entire legislative process and fools of those who believe in it."
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