Editorials

11,433 reasons to sustain veto

If you are a local barber, you make $44,480 on average. If you are a barber for the State of Illinois, you make $70,561.

If you are a local cook, you make $22,430. If you cook for the State of Illinois, you make $43,723.

If you are a local switchboard operator, you make $27,740. If you answer phones for the State of Illinois, you make $40,207.

On average, Illinois state employees make $11,433 more each year than those doing the same job in the private sector. Adjusted for cost of living, they are the highest paid state employees in the nation.

And they are asking for more.

The current demand by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees would add $1.61 billion in payroll costs during the next four years and boost some workers another 29 percent. That’s at a time when the state lawmakers want to pass a $5 billion deficit budget.

So what’s standing between AFSCME and even higher than average salaries? The fact that the governor’s office negotiates these contracts.

While we had Democrats as governor, the state employee salaries grew 80 percent over a decade. Now that there’s a Republican, well, AFSCME created a bill that leaves their compensation up to an arbitrator.

Seems fair, right? An arbitrator forges compromise, right?

Wrong.

S.B. 1229 mandates that the arbitrator pick one proposal or the other: Total winner or total loser.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill. The Illinois Senate voted to override. Next week the Illinois House is set to vote.

Democratic state representatives Jay Hoffman, Jerry Costello II, Eddie Lee Jackson and Dan Beiser are going to be under intense pressure from House Speaker Michael Madigan to override the veto. Call them and let them know whether you think Illinois has another $1.6 billion to pay its state workers, or whether you want the governor’s office to try to hold the line on costs.

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