SPRINGFIELD (Heartland Newsfeed) — Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker’s varied actions from the $15 minimum wage to hiking salaries for senior members of his staff with a 15 percent raise to doubling the salaries of his top 20 staffers among his first acts as the state’s top official amounts nothing more than a slap in the face of the state’s taxpayers. It has provoked much ire among taxpayers, Libertarians and Republicans, and among them is State Rep. Brad Halbrook.
“It just seems like politically connected insiders are getting more lavish awards,” Halbrook stated in an interview. “The signal it sends is that it’s still business as usual in Illinois for the politically connected, all of it coming at the expense of the already overburdened taxpayer. It’s just important to bring attention to the fact new government—and lawmakers in the lame duck session—had doing something like this foremost in their minds.”
The Shelbyville-based Republican laid out his case during a January 27 op-ed in Champaign’s News-Gazette, posing the question in wonder if Pritzker’s motivation has to do more with consolidation of power and maintaining his influence more than anything else.
Although Pritzker’s intention was to underwrite the salary increases of those 20 staffers, Halbrook wonders if senior staffers in any future administration will ever be willing to accept the job for less pay.
“People going to work for the next administration are not going to want to do the job their predecessors did for less money,” he noted. “So, whether it happens now or in the future, taxpayers will be on the hook for these exorbitant salaries, which will not just impact the cost of paying these salaries but also will have an impact on pensions as well.”
Halbrook said he will be sitting front and center, waiting in anticipation, when Pritzker gives his first budget address Wednesday.
“To say the least, it should be an interesting night,” he said.
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