Illinois special session to cost nearly $50,000 per day

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June 17, 2011

Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois: Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has called the legislature into a special session set to begin on June 22, with projected costs soaring to approximately $50,000 per day.

The special session was called to settle disputes relating to construction programs. Quinn and Illinois Democrats hope to add $430 million in extra spending for education and social services linked to the construction budget. However, Republicans do not approve. Adam Andrzejewski, conservative advocate and former candidate for governor, thinks that Quinn should be calling lawmakers back to cut spending even further. "Illinois’ special sessions are costly to taxpayers on many levels. The sessions cost $50,000 per day and are used to fund insiders, road contractors, and politically connected vendors. In a bankrupt state, the gravy train rolls on," Andrzejewski said.[1] The last time lawmakers were in session, 2007 and 2008, the price tag was $40,000. In those two years, former governor Rod Blagojevich ordered a record total of 26 special sessions. Fewer lawmakers attended those sessions, keeping costs at bay.[1]

If the session takes place, each legislator would receive $111 per diem per day, plus 39 cents per mile in transportation reimbursement. There are 177 total members in both the House and the Senate. For House members, the total per day would be $32,414, the Senate, $46,914.[1]

Options to call for additional regular session days exist, however, Quinn specifically wants a special session to address questions about added spending and the construction plan. John Patterson (D), spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton (D) hopes that an agreement can be made to avoid the special session, and that an alternative of additional regular session days can be substituted. Lawmakers would not be paid for the extra regular session days.[2]

Perhaps Quinn should see it like retired Blagojevich era Rep. Bill Black, "It is not to Gov. Quinn’s advantage to keep (lawmakers) over there. Downstaters always said, ‘This is county fair time, and legislators have to get re-elected. And you don’t get re-elected if you don’t go to the county fairs, and buy the grand champion rabbit or grand champion pig, or go to the queen contest and shake hands.’"[3]

Partisan breakdown of the Illinois State Senate

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 40
     Republican Party 19
Total 59


Partisan breakdown of the Illinois House of Representatives

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 70
     Republican Party 46
     Vacancy 2
Total 118


References

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