Wednesday, February 24, 2021
SPRINGFIELD – Unfortunately, under current state law, Illinois state legislators can claim a full month’s salary for just a day’s work. For this reason, Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza last year introduced her “No Exit Bonus” bill that would pro-rate legislator salaries so they get only a day’s pay for a day’s work.
Edward Guerra Kodatt was sworn in as state representative from the 22nd District on Sunday, Feb. 21. Two days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 23, Kodatt submitted his resignation. Our office has received his notice of resignation, but has not yet received his payroll information. Under current law, he is entitled to a full month’s salary, $5,788.66.
“In the spirit of good governance, I ask Mr. Kodatt to decline the month’s salary he is entitled to under this arcane law,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
Comptroller Mendoza introduced her “No Exit Bonus” bill in 2020 following a series of high-profile examples of bad behavior by state legislators of both parties caught in ethical clouds delaying their resignations until the first day of the following month so they could collect a full extra month’s salary.
Former State Rep. Luis Arroyo, charged with bribery; the late former State Sen. Martin Sandoval, who pleaded guilty to federal bribery and tax charges; and former State Rep. Nick Sauer, charged with online sex crimes, all exploited the same loophole in state law.
In all those cases, state taxpayers had to pay a full month’s salary to both the legislators resigning under an ethical cloud and also to their successors.
In this case, taxpayers could be on the hook for three full months’ salaries for: 1) Former House Speaker Michael Madigan; 2) former State Rep. Edward Guerra Kodatt; and 3) whoever committeemen now appoint to replace them, as early as Thursday.
“I would also ask the new appointee once she or he is sworn in to help restore faith in government by taking the principled stand to not take 30 days’ pay for two and a half days’ service – and to sign on as a co-sponsor of my ‘No Exit Bonus’ legislation,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
Comptroller Mendoza’s “No Exit Bonus” bill was introduced in the last legislative session, which was truncated because of COVID-19. The “No Exit Bonus” bill was one of many not acted on, though it was included in an ethics package introduced in the House on the last day of session.
This session, the proposal, SB484 and HB3104, has been introduced again by State Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, and State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville. It may also be included as part of omnibus ethics legislation.
“The practice of working one day in order to claim an entire month of pay is shameful and puts an undue burden on our already worrisome financial situation in Illinois,” Stuart said. “This is a long overdue change to the pay structure of members of the General Assembly and part of the larger ethics reform that is needed. I hope all my colleagues in the House, from both sides of the aisle, will join me in sponsoring this legislation.”
Comptroller Mendoza agreed.
“Taxpayers don’t get a month’s pay for one or two days’ work, and taxpayers should not have to fund that undeserved gift for elected officials,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “It’s time to throw the General Assembly’s ‘Exit Bonus’ on the trash heap of bad traditions.”