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Some County Board Members Deserve 365 Furlough Days

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Some County Board Members Deserve 365 Furlough Days
Some County Board Members Deserve 365 Furlough Days

After being told the county couldn't turn the hospital into an outpatient care facility, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says services will be scaled back.

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Cook County Board Member William Beavers says the Illinois Constitution prevents Board President Toni Preckwinkle from forcing him to take 10 days off without pay.

Beavers is correct. According to Article VII, Section 9, Clause (b) of the state constitution, “An increase or decrease in the salary of an elected officer of any unit of local government shall not take effect during the term for which that officer is elected.”

That provision was included to prevent officeholders from raising their own salaries. It’s similar to the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Politicians can give themselves a raise, but they can’t collect the money until after they face the voters. It essentially allows voters to decide which officeholders deserve a raise.

But Beavers and fellow board member are turning the officeholders’ salary provision on its head, by pointing that not being allowed to raise their pay also means they’re not allowed to decrease it, either. Preckwinkle is asking county board members to join in the 10 furlough days she’s imposing on all employees.

“I wrote a letter, saying ‘I do not wish to have my salary cut,’” Collins said, adding, “I will not sit by and take my cut because I know this board nor the president can cut my salary.”

That’s her right. But just as voters have the right to decide which politicians deserve a raise, they also have the right to decide which politicians deserve their current salaries. County board members who refuse to make the same sacrifices as their employees may end up facing 365 furlough days a year.

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