Metro-East News

Joke or mistake? Local state rep tells colleagues she hopes ‘we’ll all get raises.’

A rookie state lawmaker from the metro-east is getting criticism for telling fellow Illinois House members that she hopes "we'll all get raises."

The comment by state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey, might have been made in jest. But Republicans pounced on it regardless.

Bristow did not immediately return a phone call Thursday for comment.

Bristow made the remark while presenting a bill on prohibiting cost-of-living increases for legislators and keeping their mileage reimbursement at 39 cents per mile. The bill also would keep House members' per diem for meals and lodging at $111, the same rate it has been since 2011.

The annual legislation to prevent the cost-of-living increases is usually presented in the Democratically-controlled House by a Democratic member who may be facing a tough election. The sponsor then is able to brag about the legislation during campaign season.

This was Bristow's first bill, and it passed the House 108-2.

Bristow photo (1)
State Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey

During a back-and-forth discussion with Republican state Rep. Peter Breen, Bristow said, "Hopefully if this body (the Illinois House) and the Senate gets its act together, we will be able to have our revenue exceeding expenditures and we’ll all get raises."

Breen responded: "I don’t know that you were supposed to go on record and say every member of the General Assembly should get a raise."

Bristow was appointed to the seat in the 111th Illinois House District when former state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, retired last year. Bristow was the only Democrat who sought the party's nomination in the primary election and now is running against Wood River Township Supervisor Mike Babcock, a Republican.

The Illinois Republican Party and Babcock quickly issued statements about Bristow's remark.

"It is no surprise that Rep. Bristow, tightly entrenched within the Madigan self-serving machine, would advocate for more pay for herself," Babcock said. "Let me be clear, career politicians in Springfield shouldn’t be receiving an extra dime. As a small-business owner, I wouldn’t give an employee with the same record of failure a raise — I’d replace them. Rep. Bristow is the taxpayers' employee, and I’d say it’s time we replaced her, too."

One political commentator said even if it was an attempted joke, it may hurt Bristow.

"Bristow was gamely parrying questions about her bill to kill off the automatic cost-of-living increase for legislators this year," wrote Rich Miller, who runs the CapitolFax blog. "It’s the sort of bill given to targeted members (her Democratic predecessor won by just 5 points in 2016) every year to help their reelection campaigns. And while she appeared to be just making a funny quip, that one’s probably gonna sting."