September, 22 2017
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Bill for kids turns into pay raises for law makers
A bill introduced by State Senator Gary Forby that was supposed to direct money to southern Illinois, but has evolved into a complicated list of numbers. Senate bill 241 was supposed to give funding for helping troubled teens, now it’s also funding the salaries of government officials.
“I called the house and said, ‘If I send a clean bill over there with just Benton Juvi Center, nothing else, so don't change the wording on it, keep it clean, would you do that?’ They told me yes they would,” said Sen. Gary Forby, D-Benton.
“Originally the bill was one page long and gives 1.5 million here to the juvenile detention center in Benton,” added Forby. “But now it's 75 pages long and filled with confusing numbers.”
The 75 pages to the bill are mostly appropriations – that means important funding to educate children with disabilities and to make sure schools can operate. But it also means pay raises for legislators, something Forby doesn't want to be associated with.
“I don't like being held hostage,” explained Forby. “They told me they'd run my bill clean and they didn't do it and there's a problem here.”
How did this happen?
Think of it like a Christmas tree. Forby is at the top with introducing the legislation, he’s the star. After the bill passed through the Senate, it grew branches in a House committee. Most of those branches are for good causes, like money for the children.
But it's a fat tree… full of raises state directors like those in the Liquor Control Commission, the Department of Revenue and even the Illinois Racing Board. Next we put on lights. An average of about $3,000 to $4,000 in pay raises for every legislator.
Now, time for ornaments: Pay raises for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, the secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller and state treasurer.
And don’t forget the majority and minority leaders, heads of committees and caucuses. The senate president, even though he hasn't answered any calls from Channel 3.
Okay looking good… now let's plug in the lights. Oh wait... It's going to cost too much to use electricity.
“I don't know how a legislator can take a pay raise when the Ameren ComEd deal is not taken care of,” Forby remarked.
Forby said the pay raises account for about 10 percent of the bill. However, since there is still 90 percent of it going toward worthy causes, it will most likely pass.
But, now Forby would rather not have his name associated with the pay raises, but he said it may be for the greater good.
The Juvenile Detention Center in Franklin County was supposed to be the only place receiving money from bill 241. Even though the bill has not yet passed the House. The center already has its check in the bank. Forby said after he found out what happened to his bill, he requested the governor send the money early.
Comments: It will be interesting to see what happens with this bill and if it is passed. Not that government leaders should not receive pay raises, but the sneaky manner in which some of these things happen is enough to create an upset stomach. Today it may make it so that these troubled teen programs do not receive the funding they need, but how much of this type of secrecy is eating away at our society?
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