Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has handed out raises -- some of more than 20 percent -- to his staff while proclaiming a message of "shared sacrifice" and planning spending cuts of $1.4 billion because the state is awash in debt.
The Democrat has given 43 salary increases averaging 11.4 percent to 35 staffers in the past 15 months, according to an Associated Press analysis of records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
They include a $24,000-a-year bump for the man promoted to shepherd the state through the fiscal storm. Budget Director David Vaught got a 20 percent raise to bring his pay to $144,000 in October when he moved to his new position from Quinn's staff, where he was a senior adviser.
Lawmakers, whom Quinn has asked to raise income taxes and borrow billions to meet its obligations for employee pensions reacted with skepticism and anger.
"It's insulting," said Rep. Jack Franks, a Woodstock Democrat who voted "no" on Quinn's proposal to borrow $3.7 billion for the pension payment that the House OK'd but Senate has not.
"It shows how out of touch he is with the real world, where businesses are freezing salaries and in some cases laying people off," Franks said.
The budget Quinn signed last week for the fiscal year that began July 1 would borrow money and delay bill payments, along with cutting about $1.4 billion in spending. Quinn may have to come up with another $3.7 billion for pensions if legislators continue to deny him permission to borrow the money.
Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat who opposes the pension borrowing plan despite heavy lobbying, said there might be circumstances where a raise is warranted for someone taking on significant new duties. But he encouraged the governor to follow his own call for shared sacrifice and "hold the line."
Employees "might be having to accept a little more responsibility, but generally speaking, the state of Illinois is not in a position to be issuing raises at this point," Noland said.
Along with cuts in the governor's office, Jentz said the budget office cut spending by 17 percent last year. Quinn's proposed spending plan had a 10 percent increase in the budget office this year, documents show.
"We have fewer people doing more, and that's what the public wants," Quinn said.
40,000 Illinois State Workers To Get 14% Payraises
More than 40,000 unionized state workers got a pay raise last Thursday, bringing to 7 percent the amount they're gotten since last year. These same state employees are in line for another 7 percent by next July 1, all at a cost of a half-billion tax dollars a year.
It's more than the virtually bankrupt state can afford, and some Republican lawmakers say the raises need to be rolled back.
"I'm outraged," said State Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. "It's very difficult to buy this rhetoric that, 'We need to borrow, we need increased revenue,' when these kind of poor management decisions are going on."
AFSCME said it's outrageous that Republicans like Radogno have "done nothing to help solve the state's financial problems." The union argues that the state needs to raise taxes.
For his part, Governor Quinn said the 14 percent pay raise deal was cut by then-Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008. Quinn did persuade the AFSCME union last year to postpone 2 percent of the pay raise until 2011, the first time AFSCME had ever consented to even a temporary deferment of a pay raise.
No doubt AFSCME considers deferring 2% of a 14% pay raise is one hell of a sacrifice. I consider it a farce.
Bayer and his union can go to hell. If you disagree, simply vote Democratic in the upcoming election because the Democrats in general will bow down to the union, raise your taxes, and hand out raises to unions like always. It will not matter one bit that Illinois is broke and taxpayers cannot afford it.