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Most state legislators don’t seek public office for the salary. They come to the statehouse to represent their community, enact change or serve the public interest. Those are fine ideals, but they don’t pay the bills, and representatives in Illinois receive salaries among the highest in the country for state legislators.
Average State Legislator Salary
Legislators in the Prairie State receive an annual base salary of $67,836 as of 2010, according to the National Council on State Legislatures. In addition to their base salary, legislators receive a $139 per diem payment for each day the legislature is in session. All legislators receive per diem payments regardless of their home district, although the payment is intended to help defray costs of temporarily living in Springfield while the legislature is in session.
Comparison to Other States' Legisltor Salaries
Illinois’ state representatives receive the third highest base salary of all state legislators in the country as of 2010, according to the National Council on State Legislatures. Only California, which pays its representatives $95,291 each year plus per diem, and Michigan, where legislators earn $79,650 per year, pay state legislators more. In contrast, the least compensated state representatives, from New Hampshire, receive $100 a year with no per diem.
Comparison to U.S. Legislator Salaries
Although Illinois state legislators receive salaries higher than most of their counterparts in state governments around the nation, they earn a fraction of the salary paid to United States legislators. Members of the House of Representatives and Senate receive annual salaries of $174,000 as of 2010, according to the U.S. Senate. A handful of positions, such as speaker of each chamber and minority leader in each chamber also receive an additional amount for their position.
Comparison to Judicial Salaries
All seven of the justices who sit on Illinois’ Supreme Court receive the same salary of $201,819 as of 2010, according to the National Center for State Courts, which is the second-highest salary in the nation, trailing only California. The state’s legislators receive salaries that are 32 percent of those paid to the highest level of the judicial branch in the state.
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Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.