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Some State Lawmakers Argue Against Unpaid Furlough Days

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Illinois Senate Chambers

Illinois Senate Chambers (Getty Images file photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – Illinois lawmakers believe in shared sacrifice in these difficult financial times – most of them, anyway.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, a bill which awaits the action of Gov. Pat Quinn, calls for 12 unpaid furlough days for members of the state House and Senate.

The jobs are technically considered part-time, though supporters say it is important for the lawmakers to show they can take a sacrifice as well. The Senate sponsor, Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), says the effect of the furlough days will be a $3,900 pay cut.

But state Sen. Annazette Collins (D-Chicago) says it makes no sense.

“I will never vote to cut my salary, because our people; our constituents don’t expect us to do that,” she said. “We do this because some of us want to run on that. But what we should be running on is that we’ve done a great job, and we work very hard for the people of the state of Illinois, and we don’t want to do it for free.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Dave Dahl reports

Collins argued $65,000 – the pay for a representative or senator who holds no leadership posts or committee chairmanships – is not much money for the job.

Lawmakers receive $111 for expenses every day they are in session, and they also receive 39 cents per mile driving to and from session.

Also objecting to the bill is state Sen. Tom Johnson (R-West Chicago).

“This is somewhat pandering to an electorate to say we are self-righteous enough to cut, when we haven’t been able to cut the overall budget,” he said.

Johnson also said continued pay cuts could make it less attractive to run for office.

But sponsor Kotowski argued the opposite.

“We’re willing to sacrifice, just the way people are at home; to have furlough days imposed upon ourselves, which reduces our salaries,” Kotowski said. “So I think it’s an important message that we send to the electorate.

The bill passed the House unanimously. Besides Johnson and Collins, the senators voting against the bill were Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood).

SB 266 has passed both chambers and goes to the governor.

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