It’s still a week before Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker takes over for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, but lawmakers started giving him a little help Monday, advancing legislation that would allow him to pay state agency directors more money and oust members of the Illinois Tollway board.
One proposal an Illinois House committee advanced would let Pritzker pay new agency heads 15 percent more.
Supporters contend Illinois trails other big states in the salaries it offers for big jobs. The heads of the state Department of Corrections and Department of Transportation, for example, make about $150,000 per year.
“Many critical positions — including those that protect our safety and security — no longer have competitive salaries, and we are moving to bring them in line with their peers around the country to attract talent,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement.
The proposal now moves to the full House, which must approve it before a new class of lawmakers is sworn in Wednesday or else start the process over.
The move to give pay raises to top state officials comes as Pritzker on Monday will inherit a state government with deep financial troubles, including a $7.1 billion pile of unpaid bills and rising annual pension payments that threaten to crowd out other priorities the new governor and lawmakers will want to spend money on.
Still, Democratic state Rep. Christian Mitchell of Chicago, who sponsored the pay raise bill but will join the Pritzker administration soon, told a House panel the higher salaries were needed.
“We cannot fix the things that are wrong with the state if we do not have the top talent to do so,” Mitchell said.
Another plan would let the incoming governor replace the Tollway board now chaired by former Republican DuPage County chairman and candidate for governor Bob Schillerstrom amid controversies over contracts and spending on expensive banquet tickets.
Republicans voted for both proposals, and a spokesman for House GOP leader Jim Durkin said he will support both “as a gesture of good faith moving forward,” helping clear the way for their likely approval in the coming days.
They might be among the final acts of Illinois’ 100th General Assembly, which convened two years ago amid a budget stalemate between Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. Rauner mostly has stayed out of the public eye since losing in November.
01-All No Sub,02-Pol,14-Roads,16-Econ,19-Legal,TFIC Blog,24-ILGA,26-Delivered
Feeds,News,Region: Chicago,City: Chicago
via Home – Chicago Tribune https://trib.in/1LjWzdx
January 7, 2019 at 06:01PM