Elected officials are getting behind a bipartisan effort to prevent Illinois taxpayers from having to pay out what some call an “exit bonus” to state lawmakers who resign from office.
It comes after several state lawmakers resigned from their seats on the first of the month, but still got paid for the entire month.
The latest lawmaker to resign was state Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero. His last day was New Year’s Day. He will get paid for the entire month. The same thing happened in October when Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, resigned from the House at the beginning of the month.
Comptroller Susana Mendoza said if a lawmaker resigns, they should only be paid for the days they work.
“So if you decide you are resigning on the first of January, well guess what? You only get paid on the first of January,” Mendoza said. “That’s your last day. You don’t get paid for any days after that.”
State Rep. Mike Murphy, R-Springfield, filed a bill last January to do just that. He said the loophole could be compounded.
“There’s the case where we could have two legislators [from the same district] getting paid for the same month,” Murphy said. “If one resigns on the first and somebody is appointed on the tenth both of them are gonna get paid for the entire month and that’s just ridiculous.”
Mendoza didn’t initially know about Murphy’s bill, but said she’s glad he filed it. The bill she announced support for this week is from state Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin. Castro's bill is slightly different than Murphy’s bill and would affect future legislators instead of being effective immediately.
“In order for this to not be able to come under any kind of constitutional scrutiny we need to make sure that it takes place on the next official legislative session (in 2021),” Mendoza said. She also said the bill would pay lawmakers every other week instead of once a month.
Murphy said he sent letters to both Mendoza and Castro that said he supports any measures to end the practice.
“Whether we can fix it today or tomorrow with current legislator or futures legislatures, whatever it takes we’ve got to get this done,” Murphy said.
Lawmakers return for the start of the Spring session later this month.