Mazzochi Proposes Lawmaker Pay Reform; Eliminates COLA, Other Member Compensation Changes

State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) has filed an omnibus lawmaker pay reform bill aiming to address compensation laws that are unjustly advantageous to lawmakers and have resulted in unfair payments to lawmakers over the past few years.

“Legislators are not a special class of citizen, yet the laws we’ve made treat us as such.” Rep. Mazzochi said.  

Illinois lawmakers receive the fifth-highest base salary in the country and that number is set to increase every year, despite lawmaker performance or Illinois’ fiscal condition, because a 1990 law gives Illinois legislators an automatic pay raise tied to the cost of living. The General Assembly has voted nearly every year to prohibit theses COLAs since 2009. However, this requires the passage of specific legislation to do so each year. Over the past two fiscal years the Illinois General Assembly has not passed the legislation because the majority party claimed there was not enough time.

“It’s deeply objectionable that lawmakers have managed to pass legislation proposing tax increases, but not to forgo a pay raise, especially when so many are suffering under the effects of the Governor’s COVID-19 response and the General Assembly’s inaction,” Rep. Mazzochi contended. “This is a fight that comes up every year- with my bill I’m proposing we turn the fight around. Instead of having to fight to forgo these raises, the fight should be on the part of lawmakers who think they deserve a raise.” Mazzochi’s House Bill 1905 would reverse the 1990 law granting automatic COLAs and instead require the passage of a stand-alone appropriations bill for COLA increases.

HB 1905 also limits lawmaker pay to service for the month. Many disgraced former lawmakers have taken advantage of the fact that under current law legislators may collect a full month’s salary as long as they hold office for at least part of that period. For example, former State Representative Luis Arroyo resisted calls in October to resign and only did so on November 1st, allowing him to collect the entire month’s salary. This proposed change is supported by Illinois Comptroller Suzanna Mendoza. “Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill when they receive no benefit or representation in return.”

HB 1905 also makes minor changes to General Assembly meal per diems. Since its filing it has been assigned to the Executive Committee.