|The regular legislative session only runs from January through May, so members of the House and Senate will likely begin their summer breaks after May 31.
Illinois state lawmakers, taking home a base salary of nearly $68,000 a year, are paid far more than lawmakers in neighboring states. The average lawmaker salary including bonuses is $82,000.
When adding the cost of health insurance, dental insurance, mileage reimbursements, per diem payments and normal pension costs, taxpayers are on the hook for more than $100,000 per lawmaker in total annual operating costs.
And that’s not all.
Taxpayers pay once for politicians’ salaries and another 1.5 times for their bankrupt pension system. Taxpayers will contribute the equivalent of nearly $123,000 for each lawmaker in 2017 just to keep the General Assembly Retirement System afloat. State lawmakers have refused to reform their retirement plans.
While the full House has been in session for less than a single workday in May, members have been holding committee meetings throughout the month. But House appropriations committees – where lawmakers should be forging a new budget – have seen relatively little action in 2017.
The Appropriations Committee for General Services has held two meetings in the last 20 days.
And with all the talk Illinoisans have heard from lawmakers about how our state funds public education, the Appropriations Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education has met only twice in nearly 50 days.
Most Illinoisans would love to have the work schedule of their elected officials. Many would love to be working at all – the Land of Lincoln still has 146,000 fewer people working compared with before the Great Recession, an economic sickness that demands legislative action.
But state lawmakers have better things to do.