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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Ives: The Price of Loyalty




By State Rep. Jeanne Ives - 

Over the past two years, Illinois’ problems have compounded at the hand of Speaker Madigan. Between the state’s growing insolvency, a budget impasse that has shut down social services and Democrats’ inexplicable determination to continue expanding their failed government, Illinoisans are suffering as they have never before suffered. Although we reached a compromise on a stop-gap budget, it seems as if the IL state government is more divided than ever. Why is that? How can that be? It all comes down to two things: a man and money.

The money is ours. And the man is Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. During his years in power, Madigan has padded the House, keeping himself surround by hand chosen, seat-warmer representatives to do his bidding. These individuals have reaped the rewards of this system, and are the first to fall for the mistakes of their beloved leader.

Willing foot soldiers being “taken care of” for surrounding their leader and advancing his will sounds more like the plot of a mob movie than the modus operandi of a legislative caucus. Yet, the similarities persist. Paid off for their loyalty and punished for their insubordination, the 98th and 99th General Assemblies of House of Representatives have played out like plot of a bad gangster movie. Of course, this isn’t ‘The Godfather’, it’s nevertheless important to see the role of money in Don Madigan’s Illinois. (Never ask him about his business, by the way).

Loyalty pay— a bonus in which a legislator is rewarded for their loyalty toward to party leaders and their agenda. The Illinois House of Representatives spent nearly $1 million giving stipends to legislators for their roles as chairperson or minority spokesperson for one of 50 house committees.  Three out of the 49 committees never met, and 36 of these very committees decreased their number of meetings. Yet still, each legislator acting as the committee chair received an additional stipend of $10,326.  Legislators’ base pay is $67,836 annually – the 5th highest in the nation – for part-time work. Keep in mind, these same legislators have not passed a balanced budgets for the state in 13 years.   

The average committee met only 4 times, meaning that the committee chairman’s time was for $2,581.75 per hour-long meeting.  Of course this being Mike Madigan’s Illinois, results don’t matter. Chairs receive their stipend regardless of the work that comes out of these committees.

There can be no doubt that these bonus are handed out by caucus leaders to reward loyalty. It doesn’t matter if the chair has any expertise in the subject matter. It doesn’t matter how long or often committees meet or what real work is accomplished.  It is simply a 15% bump in pay.

To put this in perspective, when I served in the Army (and still today), positions similar to a committee chair (but with a mandate to carry out defined responsibilities), such as company training officer or security officer, are simply an additional duty with no bonus or stipend.  It is expected. It’s part of being a leader, whether officer or noncommissioned officer. 

In Illinois, as social services have to close their doors and those in need go unserved, Speaker Madigan has kept these excessive stipends in place. The ruling class is not looking out for you, or your family or your business or your rights – no matter what they tell you on the campaign trail.  Under the rule of Speaker Madigan and his henchmen, insiders count, those who play by the rules don’t. Loyalty Pay is only one of many examples.

If anything is going to change it has to come from us. As Carlito Brigante put it, “The dream don’t come no closer by itself. We gotta run after it now.” (Carlito’s Way) Our opportunity to change the state’s Good-Fellas culture comes in November. Vote for independent-minded challengers in State House races. Take the ruling class to the mattresses.


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  1. If a legislator accepts loyalty pay, that legislator and whoever pays the money should be arrested for bribery.
    Out of 118 state house races, 40 have only democrat candidates. Out of 40 state senate races, 25 have only democrat candidates. I hope that each of those 65 races will have a conservative write-in candidate. The write-in candidates will probably lose, but the races will increase the candidates’ name recognition, in case they run for office in 2017. If they win those races, that will help them win higher offices in 2018 or ’20.