State rep calls delayed lawmaker pay ‘extortion and corruption’

By Austin Berg 
Illinois Policy

As thousands of state vendors wait months for payments in Illinois, state politicians continue to voice tone-deaf complaints that they aren’t getting their own paychecks on time.

State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, took to Facebook to comment on the fact that State Comptroller Leslie Munger tossed lawmaker salaries into the state’s $8 billion pile of unpaid bills in April. Her office most recently sent out payments to lawmakers on July 4.

“Offering a financial incentive to an elected official to secure their vote on a subject is corruption,” Martwick wrote. “If you do that, you will go to jail. Withholding pay in order to force a vote is no different.”

His post linked to an article detailing one state lawmaker’s efforts to earn extra money by driving for Uber.

“By denying him pay, Leslie Geissler Munger and Bruce Rauner are trying, and succeeding, at putting him in a very difficult financial decision,” Martwick continued. “That is extortion and corruption.”

Illinois lawmakers aren’t used to being treated like everyone else.

Martwick’s total compensation cost taxpayers nearly $100,000 in 2015, including his $67,836 salary, nearly $10,000 in health care benefits and dental insurance, and more than $9,000 in travel reimbursements and per diem payments. He also racked up an additional $12,800 in pension benefits for when he retires.

And that’s for what is essentially part-time work.

Read: Report delves into real cost of Illinois legislators


Illinois’ state lawmakers also enjoy levels of pay protection not granted to any other body of state government. Until April, state lawmakers were getting paid despite Illinois’ lack of a state budget.

That’s due to a 2014 bill rammed through the General Assembly by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. The bill exempted lawmaker salaries and operating expenses from the annual appropriations process. In other words, those payments became “continuing appropriations,” which means they must be specifically prohibited to stop money from flowing to politicians. They’re also immune from year-to-year cuts.

Clearly, Martwick needs a reality check.

Illinois lawmakers should keep in mind that they live in a state with the second-slowest personal-income growth in the nation. Too many Illinoisans have gone years without a decent paycheck. Illinois is also the second-worst state in the nation for putting people back to work in the wake of the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, Martwick and his colleagues receive high salaries, unprecedented salary security, great health care, and guaranteed pension payments on the backs of taxpayers.

Who can complain?

One thought on “State rep calls delayed lawmaker pay ‘extortion and corruption’

  • Aug 14, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I think their salaries should be withheld because they are NOT doing their jobs. Not passing a budget (which is part of their job description) is NOT doing your job. They shouldn’t be taking breaks, going home, having weekends off UNTIL THEY PASS A BUDGET. As the writer has pointed out, Congress is making an AWFUL LOT of money for part time work. Bills come before them and they don’t inform themselves as to WHAT the bill is about, HOW it is going to affect their constituents, and is it the RIGHT thing for their constituents. Too many of our members vote according to their party’s line. That is NOT why we voted them into office. We voted them into office to REPRESENT us. They have YET to pass any type of bill for term limits. Once they get themselves into office, they don’t leave and they are a burden on our state. If any American did any of these things on their jobs, they would be fired. But these arrogant people keep paying themselves, giving themselves raises and do not perform the jobs we elected them to do!! I don’t want ANY of them paid until the budget is passed, compromises ALL THE WAY AROUND must be made, NOT just one party doing all the compromising. Sick of most of these people. Let’s keep voting them out of office until they ACTUAL do their jobs and listen to what the majority of people in the state want.

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