49 state employees to get 15 percent raises
In the final days of the 100th General Assembly, a bill that would make changes to the Illinois Lottery Law and raises the salaries of 49 state employees passed on the House floor with 68 yes votes and 37 no votes on Tuesday. Two members voted "present."
Senate Bill 3531 was introduced in February to amend the Illinois Lottery Law and require the Department of the Lottery to deposit any estimated remaining proceeds from the prior fiscal year - after certain payments and transfers were made - into the Capital Projects Fund before Sept. 30 each year.
The bill was also amended to provide raises for employees of the department: the annual salary of employees in departments will receive 15 percent raises in their annual salaries.
The bill also amends several other laws, including the Military Code of Illinois, the State Fire Marshal Act, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, the Illinois Power Agency Ac, and the Environmental Protection Act to make conforming changes, according to the General Assembly's bill information page.
Minority House Leader Jim Durkin (R-Burr Ridge) supported the bill.
"Ten years is a long time [to not have a raise] and I’ve heard it’s very difficult to find qualified and good talent," Durkin said. "I want the state to succeed. I want the agencies to succeed. This is a sign of good faith that I’m offering the new administration to show I’m willing to work with them."
Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-Crystal Lake) said he had concerns with the bill.
"Representation matters," Skillicorn said. "Value and position matter. But we need to look at hardworking employees that matter. My own office’s phones were turned off because the comptroller didn’t pay the bill. Illinois can’t pay its bills, yet we’re going to dole out raises for appointees?"
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) echoed Skillicorn's concern.
"I came down here to protect citizens," Ives said. "This body, not me, passed the 18th unbalanced budget in a row last year. We have lied to everybody. We have a spending problem here."
Ives said getting money for directors of certain agencies would not do anything to change the problems in Springfield.
"Nothing is going to change," Ives said. "You don’t need directors getting paid more. You need to pass legislation that makes a difference on our pension debt and our spending."
Ives said paying directors 15 percent more will do nothing for childhood education.
"What a farce," Ives said. "If you think this is a cure-all for Illinois, you’re wrong. The cure-all sits right here and rests in this body. This body needs to change its policy and the direction of this state and you can do it. It’s not by passing on higher salaries we cannot afford."