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Illinois Hands Out Money It Doesn't Have

by kristina rasmussen / /

If you were amazed that the State of Illinois is handing out pay bumps to tends of thousands of state workers in the midst of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, get ready for this.

Between June 2011 and January 2012, unionized state workers are scheduled to receive a total of 7.25 percent in cost of living adjustments. You read that right: 7.25 percent over a period of seven months. Pay steps outside of cost of living adjustments would only grow this amount.

So a state worker making $60,000 on May 31, 2011 will be earning $64,443 on January 2, 2012. Not bad, if you can get it. Or take it, from taxpayers. 

The state is essentially a failing business. It can't pay its bills on time, and it's default risk is heading in the wrong direction. Failing businesses looking to recover don't hand out pay raises like candy -- they work to balance costs with revenues.

Read about ways to right size public employee pay in our latest Spotlight on Spending.