Senator Melinda Bush - photo credit: Daily HeraldDaily Herald - July 27, 2017 | original article

By Kerry Lester

An already expensive four-day legislative special session underway in Springfield could have cost taxpayers $56,740 more if it hadn't been for the efforts of a suburban lawmaker.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday signed legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake, that freezes lawmaker pay rates and reimbursements as they travel down to Springfield to negotiate over a bill that would free up state funding for schools.

Bush's bill, which goes into effect immediately, caps all 177 General Assembly members' per diem rates at $111 per session day; lawmakers who travel more than 50 miles to the capitol would continue to be reimbursed 39 cents per mile. It would also eliminate a 2.1 percent cost of living adjustment to their annual salary, which has a base pay of $67,636 before stipends for leadership and committee roles. Without the legislation, per diems were set to rise to $142 per day, and mileage to 53 cents per mile, based on federal rates.

Senate President John Cullerton's office estimates that a special session costs roughly $48,000 per day -- and would have cost an added $14,185 daily without the bill for the session, which started Wednesday.

Bush, in a statement, encouraged the governor "to go one step further in saving money for Illinois taxpayers by disclosing his plans for his school funding veto and meeting with legislative leaders to negotiate a plan instead of wasting Illinois tax dollars on unnecessary special sessions."

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Category: In The News

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