CHICAGO (CBS) — For most of us, you work a day, you get paid for a day.
But Illinois law says if you work a day, you get paid for an entire month – if you’re a state lawmaker. So taxpayers are often on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.READ MORE: Police Officer Responding To Shooting, Struck By Bullet Fired By 15-Year-Old Gunshot Victim
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov uncovered this expensive loophole, and the push to close it.
It might be an Illinois record. Former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan resigned his 22nd District Illinois state House seat this past Thursday, and on Sunday, he chose Edward Guerra Kodatt as his replacement.
But on Tuesday, Madigan and Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) issued a statement calling on Kodatt to step down due to “alleged questionable conduct,” and on Wednesday – barely three days after he took office – Kodatt resigned.
Kodatt is poised now to profit big from his short-timer status. Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said Kodatt is entitled to a full month’s legislative pay – $5,788.66 – even though he only served a few days.
“You cannot, under any kind of moral compass, say that someone who has not even figured out where their office is yet… or doesn’t even know where the bathroom at the Capitol is, could potentially have earned a $6,000 salary,” Mendoza said.
But that is, in fact, the way it works. Mendoza said state law requires lawmakers get paid the full month’s salary – even if they spend just one full day in office.
And it gets better. Mendoza points out taxpayers could end up paying three different people in that one legislative district a monthly salary for February alone – Madigan, Kodatt, and whomever is picked to replace Kodatt this week.READ MORE: World's Smallest Flying Structure Developed By Northwestern Engineers
The cost to taxpayers would be $17,365.98.
“It really is an abuse of taxpayers who already feel abused in our state,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said it is also an abuse that has been going on for decades and has proved lucrative for even disgraced lawmakers. Take former state Sen. Martin Sandoval – now deceased – who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2020 after resigning his seat.
Upon pleading guilty in January 2020, Sandoval said, “I want to apologize to the people of Illinois and to my constituents.” But he did not apologize for pocketing three months’ salary after handing in his November 2019 resignation letter – effective the following January.
Because of this state law, taxpayers handed Sandoval three monthly salaries -for November, December, and January – even after he had expressed his intent to leave office. And Mendoza said Sandoval was one of many.
As for Kodatt, Mendoza wants him to refuse the money. No one answered the door when we went to ask him if he will.
“It’s an issue of principle and ethics,” Mendoza said.MORE NEWS: Ed's Driveway: Volkswagen ID.4
Mendoza is pushing for a new law that would prorate a lawmaker’s monthly salary – work a day, get paid for a day. It is a law she hopes will get bipartisan support.