McSweeney returns legislative pay raise, hopes others will follow
Republican state Rep. David McSweeney of Barrington Hills says he hopes to lead by example in returning his recent legislative pay increase, even though outright refusal of it can't be done in Illinois.
"I had to write a check," McSweeney explained. "This is the first year there's been a pay increase since I've been in the General Assembly."
Since he joined the House in 2013, McSweeney said he's filed bills every year to eliminate pay increases for legislators. But this year, such pay raises were lumped into the overall budget implementation plan, which McSweeney voted against for the full amount of spending it envisioned.
Since then, he worked with State Comptroller Susana Mendoza to return the amount of his own pay increase. Between his regular pay and his pay as a committee spokesperson, the total amount of the raise he returned was $1,875.
Though he criticizes Illinois for being a rare or even unique state for legislators' inability to refuse a pay increase upfront, McSweeney concedes he doesn't know whether that was intentional. But the use of the word "should" in the law makes it imperative for legislators to receive their pay before they can return it, he said.
McSweeney added that he can't foresee any circumstance that would ever justify Illinois' "highly paid" state legislators to accept an increase in their salaries.
"The state is in crisis," he said. "We need to lead by example. It's a part-time job. I have another job."