In the past, we've poked fun at the Illinois Policy Institute's
"Spotlight on Spending" series in which the conservative think tank
"highlights wasteful or inefficient programs and spending." This week,
the group came out with a new white paper comparing the pay of Illinois'
constitutional officers with those in other states. According to their
research, Illinois ranks in the top 10 for the salaries it paid out to
its governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general,
treasurer, and comptroller this year. "Accountability for the state’s
budget woes should start at the top," the Institute writes.
"Illinois’s executive officers shouldn’t be paid more than the
average salary for each position."
Statewide officials are taking umbrage
with the report, claiming the authors didn't factor into the data 12
furlough days each officer was forced to take to cut costs. We'd raise a
different critique: While it's bad politics to provide elected
officials with extravagant salaries, it's a good thing for state
governance if the wage gap between the public and the private sector
isn't enormous. Illinois needs well qualified people to work in
Springfield. If someone can earn three times as much for a comparable gig in the private sector, the incentives are strong for those folks to
leave government as fast as possible. It seems pretty clear, for
example, that taxpayers are benefiting from paying
Attorney General Lisa Madigan $156,600 annually to fight on behalf of
them and not special interests who can offer better benefits.