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Some state lawmakers promise to give the extra $3,000 they’ll be paid during the next 12 months to charity. As part of a budget bill, lawmakers voted last month to stop taking 12 unpaid furlough days as they have done for the last five years.

The change means state representatives and senators will receive at least $3,000 more in salary for the budget year that started July 1. The money technically isn’t a pay increase, just a return to the salaries they received before the furloughs started.

State Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, who was paid $64,796 last year, said he’ll donate all the extra money he’s set to receive to local charities.

“I believe that since Illinois is facing tough economic times, it’s not fair that legislators should get this extra money,” he said.

Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, who was paid almost $74,569 last year, said he “probably” would donate money from his first higher paycheck. “Let’s see if we ever get it first.”

Sen. Jacobs said he was skeptical that lawmakers who promised to donate the extra money to charity actually would do so. “A lot of people say they’re going to give it to charity, but how do you know they ever do?”

He said he would earn the extra pay by working the 12 previously unpaid furlough days. He also pointed out that lawmakers had not received a cost of living pay increase for years. “I didn’t come to government to get rich, but I got bills to pay,” Sen. Jacobs said.

The base salary for the part-time Illinois lawmakers is $67,836, which includes pay they lost through furloughs, with stipends for those who chair committees or hold leadership positions.

Lawmakers no longer could take unpaid furlough days because of legal advice based on a court ruling from last year, Rep. Smiddy said. The courts ruled against Gov. Pat Quinn last year when he tried to cut lawmaker salaries from the budget.

State Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Gilson, said he would distribute his extra pay to charities throughout his district. He said he always voted against pay raises and supported the furloughs.

State Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, said he would give “strong consideration” to donating his pay bump to charity or giving it back to the state but hadn’t made his mind up.

Sen. LaHood and Rep. Moffitt were paid $74,569 last year, according to public records. Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, also was paid $74,569 in 2013. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Original Source: QConline.com, “Smiddy, Moffitt promise to donate extra pay; other lawmakers consider it

Image credit: Gary Krambeck / gkrambeck@qconline.com



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