Cost of do-little Illinois Legislature? $260,000
October 21, 2013, By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog, Illinois lawmakers return to the statehouse next week for the annual fall session, but there’s little to deal with because Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed only a few pieces of legislation.
Quinn’s biggest veto, for lawmaker pay, was struck down by a judge earlier this month.
Lawmakers could vote on pension reform or a plan to legalize gay marriage, but Aurora Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes said a reform vote for Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension systems won’t come during the first three veto session days.
“Definitely not the first week,” said Holmes, one of 10 lawmakers on the state’s special pension committee. “There are still some changes the Republicans wanted to look at, so we’re having the actuaries pull those numbers.”
But even if those numbers come back, and the GOP is on board, Holmes said there’s no guarantee pension reform can happen this fall.
There will be two competing rallies on gay marriage and both supporters of the plan to legalize marriage between two men or two women will march to the Capitol on Tuesday.
But gay marriage didn’t even come up for a vote in the Illinois House in the regular spring session. Lawmakers haven’t said if they have found enough votes to pass the measure now.
October 21, 2013, By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog, Bloomington Republican state Rep. Dan Brady suggested the General Assembly cancel some of the six days.
“I don’t believe there is enough there, of a substantive nature, that the entire House and Senate are in for six days over a handful of the governor’s vetoes,” Brady said.
It’s expensive to keep the full General Assembly at the capitol.
Each of Illinois’ 177 lawmakers gets $111 a day for meals and a hotel room. They also get 39 cents a mile to drive to the statehouse, though not everyone drives.
The total, if all 177 lawmakers show up, comes to $43,147 a day. That adds up to $258,882 for the six-day veto session.
“Taxpayers have to be asking themselves, how many more times are we going to be asked to pay for lawmakers to travel to Springfield without producing any results?” asked Matt Paprocki, the Illinois Policy Institute’s director of government affairs.
“Our pension liabilities grow at $21 million per day and our unpaid bills are reaching almost $9 billion and lawmakers yet again, will travel down to Springfield, on taxpayers funds, without any solutions to these problems,” Paprocki said.
Reach Benjamin Yount at BYount@Watchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.