Republican state Rep. Dan Caulkins (Decatur) has had enough of the “magical thinking” he believes is responsible for Springfield’s dysfunction, the latest case in point being the automatic pay raises lawmakers just received as part of the new state budget.
“When you understand the history of how this has gone, [the Democratic majority] put this cost-of-living adjustment in, passed the law so there’s an automatic cost-of-living adjustment, and then every year passed a bill turning down the cost-of-living raise,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “Every year they got to walk around and tell everybody what great public servants they are for not taking the cost-of-living adjustment they put in. I call it magical thinking because it’s all an illusion.”
Caulkins argues that much of the spring legislative session was dominated by that same illusory vibe, especially when it comes to the way Democrats wound up carving out the $1,600 raise for lawmakers as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's new $40 billion spending plan. Illinois lawmakers will now earn roughly $70,000 for what is essentially a part-time job requiring them to be in Springfield only 70 days out of the year. Among other perks, members also receive mileage reimbursements and per diem allowances.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur)
“I can tell you giving House and Senate lawmakers a pay raise is like giving a raise to your chief financial officer for doing such a great job of embezzling,” Caulkins said. “The Democrats have run through all these absolutely terrible bills and we haven’t even gotten to the income tax. You talk about going after the working family. This has to be the biggest money grab ever.”
Caulkins said the fact that so few Illinoisans are surprised by what’s happening tells you how bad and for how long things have been amiss in Springfield.
“I know they don’t like it; they think it’s irresponsible, but they’re not shocked,” he said. “This is the Democrats and they wanted a pay raise.”
Just like he’s done with his entire salary since arriving in Springfield, Caulkins said he plans to deposit the added funds in a special checking account to be dispersed to veterans, seniors and youth groups as part of his Outreach 101 program.
“So far this year, we’ve given out over $8,000 in grants and next week we're going to give out another $6,000 or $7, 000,” he said.