SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers on Monday backed initiatives pushed by Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, including giving approval to a change in state law to increase salaries by 15 percent for Cabinet members he hopes to hire.
The Democrat doesn’t take office for another week. But a Democratic-controlled House panel still passed the plan that would boost salaries.
The transportation secretary and prison system directors, for example, would be paid $172,500 a year instead of the current $150,000. Pritzker said current salaries are not competitive .
The Executive Committee also voted unanimously to allow Pritzker to replace all current members of the Illinois Tollway board, citing questionable spending and contracting.
The Cabinet-level salary bump is necessary to entice competent leadership to a state still smarting from billions of dollars of debt and other struggles in recent years, said Rep. Christian Mitchell, the Chicago Democrat sponsoring the measure .
Pritzker will be inaugurated Jan. 14. The governor’s salary is $177,400.
Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokeswoman for outgoing Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, released data showing Illinois trailing behind other states in Cabinet compensation. California and Texas pay their Corrections Department chiefs about $265,000. The Texas transportation director makes $300,000.