In November 2014, Illinois did something that few thought they would ever do again: They elected a Republican governor (despite keeping a Democratic supermajority in the general assembly). Wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner took over from former Governor Pat Quinn at the beginning of this month, and then loudly complained that the state’s workers are overpaid.
While he was doing that, he let his wife hire a “chief of staff” for herself, at a cost of $100,000 per year.
According to the Peoria Journal-Star, that kind of salary is not out of line for a chief of staff. One assumes, however, that a chief of staff will have a staff to manage, thus commanding that kind of salary for the job. Diana Rauner is considering initiatives on child advocacy, and restoring the governor’s mansion in Springfield. As of right now, she does not have a staff, nor does she have any official duties requiring a staff.
Considering Rauner thinks that the state’s workers are overpaid, and wants to trim the state’s workforce to help Illinois’ ongoing financial woes, this seems a bit excessive. Someone who was a true fiscal conservative would be more likely to tell his wife to wait on hiring a chief of staff until she knew whether she’d even need someone in that position. The simple lesson is (or should be) this: Chiefs of staff are expensive, so it’s a good idea to be sure you’ll actually need one before you hire one.
According to a story on NWITimes.com, Illinois public sector workers have the third highest pay in the country. Rauner thinks that means something fishy is going on. But a study conducted by the University of Illinois has found that the state’s public sector workers are underpaid by as much as 40 percent, when compared to private sector workers with similar educational backgrounds.
That study also found that Illinois public sector workers make up 13 percent of the state’s total workforce, but account for at least 16 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. Therefore, reducing the workforce further, and possibly bringing their wages down, could slow Illinois’ economy considerably.
We can’t expect Rauner to understand that, or to understand how hiring a $100,000 per year chief of staff for his wife’s as-yet non-existent staff looks to workers whose livelihoods may be threatened under this Republican administration. Republicans think punishing government workers is one of the paths to prosperity, and they won’t listen to pesky things, like facts, that contradict them.
Featured image via ChicagoNow.com