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Illinois lawmakers to take 12 unpaid furlough days

Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013 11:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, June 23, 2013 11:30 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois lawmakers will take a pay cut starting next month under a new law signed Saturday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg and approved by both houses with broad bipartisan support, requires members of the General Assembly to take one unpaid furlough day per month in fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1. It also prohibits cost of living increases for state officials and freezes lodging, meal and mileage reimbursement rates.

The new law will not affect pension calculations.

Mussman, a Democrat re-elected to her second term in November, has said the move will show constituents that elected officials are sharing in the burden of the state’s financial woes.

Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state because of ballooning pension costs. Its pension liability is also the nation’s worst — about $97 billion.

The state’s lawmakers are among the highest paid in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The base salary is $67,836, with leadership posts and committee roles providing additional boosts. Many also earn full-time salaries in outside positions.

Mussman last year also introduced legislation to permanently cut lawmakers’ pay by 10 percent. The bill passed the House, but failed to move in the Senate.

Quinn issued a statement commending lawmakers for voting for the furlough bill, and encouraged them to “work just as hard to get the job done on public pension reform, the most important fiscal challenge of our time.”

The governor has called lawmakers back to Springfield for another special session July 9 to deal with pensions. The General Assembly adjourned a special session on Wednesday after voting to form a 10-member committee to deal specifically with the pension problem.

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