Severin pushes legislative pay freeze: no state budget, no bulging billfolds
State legislators should be in the job for the people, not the paycheck, Rep. David Severin (R-Benton) told Tom Miller on "Morning Newswatch," a program on WJPF's News Radio.
"I'm not a representative to pad my pocket, and the rest of us shouldn’t be either," Severin said. “The reason that I’m a state representative is to be that : a representative of the people of my district… . We don’t need raises; we don’t need those types of things. What we need to do is work, and then things will take care of themselves.”
Severin has joined with 11 fellow Republicans in sponsoring House Bill 3790, which would freeze legislator pay from July 1 to July 31, 2018, and establish a reimbursement rate for mileage, lodging and meals.
On a related note, Severin said he was disappointed that the state’s judicial branch determined that lawmakers should be paid before the state’s other bills.
“We have people that are owed thousands and owed millions of dollars, and then they start sending paychecks to us – that was wrong,” he said. “That was not the right thing to do… . I liked the way it was. It’s like, ‘Hey, you know what, we don’t got a budget, we’re not getting paid.’ I agreed with that 1,000 percent; you know, put the hurt on us, and let us realize what everyone else is experiencing.”
Severin also discussed two resolutions he has gotten through the House, both of which stand to benefit Illinoisans without adding to the state’s spending. The first adds a service dog program to an existing initiative to aid veterans with PTSD and depression. The second officially establishes cycling as the Illinois state exercise.
An avid cyclist himself, Severin said the resolution will promote exercise and tourism in the state, providing an opportunity to showcase the bike trails throughout Illinois.
Despite these successful measures, the freshman lawmaker told Miller that he is frustrated by the partisanship in the House leading up to the state 2018 elections.
“One side’s blaming it on the other; the other side’s blaming it on ... and it’s just like, ‘You know what, guys? Let’s get something done here,’ ” Severin said. “Behind the whole thing is people gearing up for election in two years, so they’re maneuvering their … pieces on the table to try and slam the other side… . I’m learning, and I’m working my very best and trying to keep my mouth shut, to know when to talk and when not to. But it sure got me fired up.”
Severin said his goal is to be an effective leader. He recently established committees representing industries within the 117th district, including education, law enforcement, tourism and manufacturing, to help inform him when issues arise. He said the committees organized themselves and established a point person for him to contact.
“We brought people together, put them in committees, and let them choose their chairman,” Severin said. “And the purpose of that was that anytime we have a bill coming up, and I need information, and I need input from our district, I can reach out to those people, and they can get back to me quickly.”
He hopes the committees will allow him to gain information but also approach him when they feel legislation is necessary to address a certain issue in their industry.