Early last month, the Associated Press released a damaging report that Governor Pat Quinn handed out hefty pay raises to 35 staffers as the state was slashing programs due to a budget crisis. Turns out, that number is a lot higher.
NBC Chicago filed a Freedom of Information Request following the AP story--and discovered that about 235 state employees received pay raises this year, during what Quinn called the "great recession." From the NBC report:
Of the 235 who received a pay raise in 2010, 225 of them received more than a five percent pay hike. Those rewarded with a fatter check include a labor relations expert whose pay increase is more than $5,000, to the local tourism marketing manager who received more than a $10,000 pay hike.
While Quinn said the raises were given because a smaller staff was doing more work, those who took pay cuts and are doing more work due to the economic downturn are not likely convinced.
Sen. Michael Noland, an Elgin Democrat, told the AP in July that there might be circumstances where a raise is warranted for someone taking on significant new duties. But he encouraged the governor to follow his own call for shared sacrifice and "hold the line."
Employees "might be having to accept a little more responsibility, but generally speaking, the state of Illinois is not in a position to be issuing raises at this point," Noland said.
Quinn was quick to explain that he has "cut the budget by $3 billion...more than any governor in state history." Unfortunately, these cuts have done nothing to help Illinois with its $13 billion deficit.
"Yeah, well, he cut the budget but he didn't touch the deficit, apparently," Capitol Fax reporter Rich Miller wrote Tuesday. "And he also didn't protect funding for education. He cut that, too."
Quinn's opponent, Republican Bill Brady, slammed Quinn for the pay raises, calling him "clueless and out of touch."
Meanwhile, Brady has his own issues to deal with. After repeatedly telling voters he could balance the state budget in one year--his own campaign admitted that it was not really possible.
On Tuesday, the New York Times dubbed the race for Illinois governor a tossup. We wonder why.