Illinois state Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) | dalerighter.com
Illinois state Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said in a recent statement that he opposed the pay raise for state legislators that ended up being part of the state's unbalanced $40 billion fiscal 2020 operating budget.
Righter opposed the budget, according to the statement posted to his state Senate website.
"I voted no on an operating budget that relies on new taxes and provides for pay raise for state lawmakers," Righter said. "It could not be more unethical for legislators to demand even more from the pocketbooks of our taxpayers just to turn around and put it in their own pockets."
The budget passed, notwithstanding opposition from Mattoon and other Republicans in the Senate, with partisan 40 yeas to 19 nays.
Righter represents Illinois' 55th District, which includes all of Clark, Coles, Crawford and Cumberland, Jasper, Crawford, Clay, Richland, Lawrence, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash and White counties and parts of Edgar and Effingham counties.
Prior to the pay raise, lawmakers in Illinois's General Assembly received base salaries of almost $68,000 for what the Illinois Policy Institute called "essentially part-time work."
This year's legislative pay raise is only the latest supported by Illinois' powerful and longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who in 2014, helped insure passage of a bill that guaranteed lawmakers would get paid with or without a budget that year.
"They did this by exempting lawmaker salaries, operating expenses and pay increases from the annual appropriations process," the IPI said in an article published in 2016. "In other words, these payments became 'continuing appropriations.'"
As in 2014 and 2016, this year's pay raise will be paid for by the same group of overburdened people: Illinois taxpayers.
"It is taxpayers who will bear the brunt of this pain as lawmakers refuse to address the state’s biggest cost drivers or reign in spending," IPI Budget and Tax Research Director Adam Schuster said in a statement issued shortly after the budget passed following an overtime session. "There is a path forward to both balancing the budget and funding infrastructure without hiking taxes. Taxpayers deserve that option."