Closer Look: Lawmaker pay, a firestorm for years, lit again

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers are anxious about an automatic 2 percent salary increase they receive this month despite a budget crisis.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has derided Democrats who control the General Assembly for accepting the cost-of-living adjustment to a base $68,000 salary. There’s no budget agreement between the two sides a month into the new fiscal year.

Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says the Constitution prohibits “changes in salary” during a legislator’s term of office. A judge affirmed that in a 2013 lawsuit Cullerton and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan filed against former Gov. Pat Quinn when the Democrat withheld money for lawmakers’ salaries.  So the automatic pay raise takes effect.

But legislators have repeatedly voted to reject the annual adjustments — including in 2014, after the Quinn lawsuit.