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SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers likely will again take 12 furlough days and forgo any salary increases under legislation moving through the General Assembly.

The cut comes as the General Assembly wants to eliminate 3.5 percent raises that are due thousands of unionized state workers in the fiscal year beginning July 1.

“We need to show through our leadership that we’re going to continue to find ways to save money for taxpayers,” said state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat who is leading Senate budget discussions.

Under a Senate budget proposal, the General Assembly likely would cut its own budget by 5 percent as a whole.

“That presents significant cost-savings this year,” Kotowski said. “The reality is that we’re asking a lot of people to sacrifice.”

Lawmakers say it’s fair to target members of unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 because private sector workers have had their pay reduced.

“We’re not making cuts in their pay,” said state Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill. “In this environment, you’d think they’d be jumping for joy.”

Anders Lindall, AFSCME spokesman, said unionized workers have made more sacrifices than politicians in Springfield, including deferring scheduled raises and a program of voluntary furloughs.

“If we’re comparing the amount of sacrifice made by front-line state employees versus Springfield politicians, there is no question that front-line state employees, who are paid less and work harder, have sacrificed much more,” Lindall said.

State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, said the state’s budget problems mean everyone must make sacrifices.

“When it comes to a situation like we’re in now, everybody is affected,” said Verschoore.

State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, urged unionized workers to work with lawmakers to find more savings in order to get the state back on financial track.

“I think a lot of us looked around the room and said, ‘Are you kidding? You’re the only group in America that got a pay raise and a guaranteed no layoff,’” Rose said. “It will be up to them.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 260.


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