Senate Republicans rejected a budget that included a pay hike for legislators in the final days of the spring legislative session. Late on the night of May 31, Senators were surprised to find a $1,600-per-year salary increase in the budget presented to them.
The $39.9 billion budget, which includes a 2.4 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to legislators’ base salary, was considered initially in the Senate on May 31 just before the clock struck midnight. State Sen. Dale Righter was the first to point out that the previously agreed to COLA freeze was missing from the legislation.
In Illinois, COLA increases for legislators are automatic in state law unless the legislature takes action to block them. Blocking these pay increases has become a routine practice and, for a decade, budget legislation has included language to freeze salaries.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Righter said, “Don’t try to slip it through in the last hours of session, because that’s what people resent.”
Freeze language was added to legislation that the Senate voted to send over to the House; however, the House sponsor filed a motion to reject the freeze, and the bill was never called for a vote.
Despite optimism that a bipartisan state budget was within reach, without language to freeze this pay hike for legislators, all 19 members of the Senate Republican caucus ultimately voted “no” on the budget proposal.