Caulkins dismayed at governor's race to spend more
State Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) frets over the message he thinks Gov. J.B. Pritzker sent by making spending more money his first order of business in Springfield.
“With everything that’s happening in Illinois, how can it be that the first thing he can think to do is give out these raises everyone knows we can’t afford?” Caulkins said to the Chambana Sun of the lame duck passage of Senate Bill 3531. “It absolutely boggles the mind.”
The new law grants 15 percent raises to state department directors, assistant directors and secretaries, while also guaranteeing top state workers annual cost-of-living increases as of July 1.
To safeguard its passage, Democrats held onto the legislation until after Pritzker took over. Since then, Pritzker has also vowed to personally double the salaries of some state employees out of his own pocket.
“If that truly is his plan, wouldn’t that have been enough without costing taxpayers even more by guaranteeing these raises everyone knows we can’t afford?” asked Caulkins, who won nearly 70 percent of the vote in his landslide win over his Democratic opponent, Jen McMillin, in the 101st District in November. “I just think it would be more prudent to use that money for things like fixing our roads and paying down our growing backload of unpaid bills.”
While he said he understands why the few Republicans who supported the measure may have done so, Caulkins said he still thinks it was a mistake.
“They wanted to be seen as being cooperative, or think it will win them some favors down the road on other legislation,” he said. “Personally, any time you abandon your principles, I think it’s a mistake. We need to stand on principles, and let people know there is a difference between the two parties. We’re not 'Democrat lite,' and that needs to be the message we’re sending.”
The 101st House District spans parts of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.