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Part-time Illinois state lawmakers are 4th highest paid in the nation

Illinois state lawmakers in the 103rd General Assembly received a $12,000 pay increase for the new year, making them among the highest paid legislators in the country.

The salary increase approved by Gov. J.B. Pritzker now makes the starting pay for a part-time Illinois state lawmaker $85,000 annually. Illinois lawmakers are scheduled in session for about 70 days out of the year.

Illinois lawmakers are now the fourth highest-paid in the country, according to the Illinois Policy Institute, but they are the highest paid among part-time legislators. The average household salary for an Illinois resident is $72,563, according to U.S. census data.

Bryce Hill of the Illinois Policy Institute noted that many lawmakers are making even more than the starting salary.

“What they actually take home will be even greater because they also have bonuses ranging from $12,000 to $16,000 for committee positions and leadership positions,” Hill said.

Lawmakers also will take home a stipend of $155 a day when they’re in session and up to 53 cents on the mile for travel to and from district offices and trips to the state capitol, all paid for with taxpayer money.

According to Illinois Policy Institute’s research, since 2020, Illinois lawmakers have seen more yearly increases than every other state except New York, which is highest in the nation for lawmaker pay.

Hill also said that pay increases were rare before Pritzker took office.

“Previous to Gov. Pritzker’s election, from 2008 through 2019, lawmakers had chosen to freeze their salaries. They chose to forgo the annual cost of living adjustments that were previously automatic,” Hill said. “A lot of the reason behind the decision was because the state was and still is currently in such a dire financial position.”

Several Illinois lawmakers also benefits financial through their pension system. Those legislators who have been in office for over 20 years are entitled to 85% of their annual salaries after retirement, however the General Assembly Retirement System is only 20.8% funded.

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, earns about $7,100 a month in pension payments for being a retired state lawmaker. Madigan faces more than 20 counts of corruption-related charges, including racketeering, bribery and extortion. He’s pleaded not guilty with a trial expected to begin April 2024.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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