Bruce Rauner keeps calling for “shared sacrifice” to get Illinois out of its huge financial hole, but his message sounds a tad hypocritical now that we know the sacrifices don’t apply to his staff.
Nine of his top 10 staffers are being paid more than their counterparts in Gov. Pat Quinn’s office – anywhere from 11 percent to 94 percent more. In dollars, it’s an extra $380,000 for those positions.
Rauner is unapologetic and says he’s paying for talent. That would be fine if this were Rauner the private businessman talking. But Rauner the governor needs to understand how bad this looks in light of his constant criticism that Illinois spends too much on government. In recent weeks he has complained that state workers’ salaries are the third highest in the nation, and that everyone from the switchboard operator to the correctional officer makes more than private workers and public employees in other states. Bumping up the pay of his own staff is handing his opponents ammunition to use against him. It’s even making his supporters scratch their heads in confusion.
Rauner’s first State of the State speech will be Wednesday, and later in the month he will give his budget address. He is going to need the support of lawmakers and the public to solve Illinois’ fiscal problems. It would be easier to get it if he had supplied a few answers before he added more questions.