Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

July 12, 2013

Lawmakers won't let pay freeze rush pension fix



Raoul, Murphy and Zalewski are attorneys. Brady, of Bloomington, is a real estate developer and co-owner of a home-building company. The remainder of the committee members — Biss, Nekritz, State Sen. Linda Holmes, Republican Reps. Jil Tracy, Darlene Senger and Democratic Rep. Art Turner — all describe themselves as full-time lawmakers.

Zalewski's wife, Carrie, has a spot on the state's pollution control board that pays $117,000 annually, in addition to her husband's check from the state.

Raoul, the committee's chairman, said he wouldn't be hurt by losing his paycheck, but that's not the case for some legislators.

"I've got a (law) practice, I'm a partner at a firm away from the Legislature," he said. "But we do have a citizen Legislature where it is expected people come from different professions. We have that sort of diversity where some have other jobs, some are independently wealthy, some are single parents. So (those) are people I feel for the most."

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, an Olympia Fields Democrat who is not on the committee, has been an outspoken critic of Quinn's move. She describes herself as a working mother who has three young children to support, but that while she'll feel the pinch of the pay cut, it won't make her push her colleagues into coming to a quick solution.

"Will this hurt me personally, financially? Absolutely," Hutchinson said. "But the worst thing that can happen is that legislators make a political decision instead of one that forwards the goals of good public policy."

Quinn announced the salary suspension Wednesday, a day after the General Assembly missed at least the sixth deadline he set for them to come up with a compromise solution to the pension problem, which has plagued the state for years. The Democratic governor, who has made the pension problem his top priority and is up for re-election next year, said he had tried everything else to urge them along, without success.

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