Illinois voters could be excused for shrugging after learning that state politicians finished business on Monday without a vote on pension reform.
It’s an important issue to resolve for the state’s fiscal health.
Unfunded state pension liability rose to $96.9 billion at the end of fiscal year 2012, up from $83 billion in fiscal year 2011, a state legislative agency announced in November, according to Reuters.
Illinois’ funded ratio for pensions, already the lowest among states, fell to 39 percent when fiscal 2012 ended on June 30 from 43.3 percent, the commission reported, Reuters said. A funded level of
80 percent is considered healthy.
The financial crisis is familiar to state residents.
But what is probably less familiar is the fact that Illinois’ legislators are among the best paid in the country.
We learned that after reading a graphic prepared by the National Council of State Legislatures.
Illinois legislators receive a base annual salary of $67,836.
That’s the fifth-highest total of all the states.
With $95,291, California has the highest annual base salary for legislators.
In the Midwest, Michigan is number one with a base of $71,685 per year.
By contrast, legislators in New Hampshire receive $200 every two years.
A Boston University article made the point that it can be difficult to evaluate legislative productivity between states.
In New Hampshire, for example, legislators receive less money and passed a higher percentage of bills into law than their compatriots in Massachusetts, the article said.
There are other factors to consider like the bills’ complexity and the budget.
In state like New Hampshire, the budget is passed ever two years-a factor that allows legislators to focus on other issues the second year.
Massachusetts and 30 other states, including Illinois, have an annual budget.
As interesting as this may be, it can all seem like noise to Illinois residents who continue to wait for decisive action on the part of their well-paid legislators.
The lame-duck session ends Tuesday.
Here is a list of legislator pay by state.