State’s $100,000 club includes 682 who made more than governor last year

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One of every 10 workers on the state of Illinois payroll made more than $100,000 last year.

Nearly 700 state employees — most of them judges but also prison guards and nurses among them — drew heftier paychecks than Gov. Pat Quinn.

And more than 100 state workers doubled their base pay by working overtime or cashing in compensatory time — with 14 of them getting at least $80,000 apiece in extra pay, records show.

Altogether, nearly $4.8 billion of Illinois taxpayers’ money was paid last year to 82,104 full-time, part-time and contractual workers on the state payroll, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis that comes as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Democrat Quinn’s successor, is proposing colossal cuts in state spending.

Rauner has blamed labor unions for a large chunk of the state’s financial mess, declaring in his inaugural address that state salaries and pensions have been inflated by “government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they’ve spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect.”

Union officials counter that Illinois government leaders have drastically cut the number of full-time state employees over the past 15 years, forcing many workers to put in onerous amounts of overtime.

The Sun-Times analysis found that:

• Eighty-one percent of the state’s highest-paid employees last year — the 682 who made more than Quinn’s $177,412 salary — weren’t members of any labor union.

• Of the 8,854 state workers making more than $100,000, 47 percent were union workers in state agencies now under Rauner’s control. They included plumbers, child-welfare workers, highway maintainers and court-reporting supervisors.

• Six of every 10 employees paid between $90,000 and $100,000 held union jobs now controlled by Rauner. They included a transportation department bridge-tender and a prisons department “teacher of barbering.”

• Thirteen union workers got more than $90,000 in extra pay, mostly by working overtime. They included four nurses, two corrections lieutenants and a stationary engineer.

The Sun-Times calculated those figures by matching the names of nearly 42,000 union workers in Rauner-controlled agencies against the state payroll using computer databases obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger’s staff supplied the total wages, overtime and compensatory time paid to anybody who got a paycheck from the state last year — including doctors, assistant attorneys general, legislators, drivers’ clerks in the secretary of state’s office, highway maintainers and part-time student and Illinois State Fair workers. The newspaper’s analysis doesn’t include state university employees, who aren’t paid by the comptroller.

Rauner’s Central Management Services Department supplied union affiliations of the 41,299 full-time state workers under his control — the bulk of the state’s work force. That data doesn’t include employees overseen by other statewide elected officials — such as the secretary of state and attorney general — who also employ union workers.

The highest-paid worker in the comptroller’s database was Robert S. Rupnik, chief investment officer for the state Teachers’ Retirement System, the pension fund for suburban and downstate public educators.

Rupnik, of Springfield, made $446,875. He was among five TRS employees — all of them non-union — who made more than Quinn.

TRS spokesman David Urbanek defended the salaries of his agency’s officials, saying they have “highly specialized skills” that “in the private sector . . . would demand salaries several times higher than what executives earn from TRS.” Some university administrators, medical professors and coaches make more than Rupnik, Urbanek said.


House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, with chief of staff Timothy Mapes, left, and former House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, in 2007.  AP file photo

The highest-paid group of employees also included House Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s chief of staff, Timothy Mapes, who made $193,531 — more than double Madigan’s pay as speaker. Mapes also is executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois, which Madigan runs. The state party doesn’t pay Mapes a salary, records show.

Lorrie Rickman Jones, who’s married to former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, made $183,539 as a senior policy adviser to Quinn — 3 percent more than the former governor made. She left the state payroll Nov. 16, less than two weeks after Rauner defeated Quinn.


Lorrie Rickman Jones, left, in November 2011. Sun-Times files

Of the 682 employees who made more than Quinn, 540 were judges. Another 96 were doctors working for the human services and veterans services departments — all of them represented by the state government’s largest bargaining unit, the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. Others were non-union state-agency chiefs and government aides like Mapes and Jones.

The elite group also included union nurses, prison workers and Illinois State Police officers.

Some of them doubled their base pay by working overtime, records show. Two nurses for the state’s prison system, for example, each made more than $217,000 last year, more than twice their base pay of about $90,000 a year. Another nurse in the human services department made nearly $200,000, almost triple her base pay.

Unlike in private hospitals in Illinois, the state can require nurses to work overtime even if they don’t want to, said Alice J. Johnson, executive director of the Illinois Nursing Association. Her union has proposed creating a registry of nurses who could work those overtime hours on a part-time basis — akin to a substitute-teaching roster — but the idea hasn’t won support in the Illinois General Assembly, according to Johnson.

AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall defends the union wages, pointing to a 2013 University of Illinois study which found that state and local government workers in Illinois earn incomes that are 13.5 percent less on average than private-sector workers with comparable educations.

“Illinois has one of the nation’s very smallest state work forces per capita,” Lindall also said, with the number of employees falling more than 30 percent since 2001 in key departments, including corrections, juvenile justice, the State Police and the Department of Children and Family Services.

Rauner aides declined to comment on the Sun-Times’ findings.

The governor has said he plans to hire more corrections workers to improve safety and decrease overtime pay at state prisons.

But he has also angered union leaders by signing an executive order — and by filing a federal lawsuit — to stop state employees under his control from having to pay so-called fair-share fees to unions. In Illinois, labor organizations negotiate contracts for all state employees with union job titles regardless of whether the workers are union members. Employees who don’t join unions are required to pay a proportional “fair share” to cover the cost of contract talks.

Rauner maintains that inflated union salaries have led to generous pension benefits to retirees, thereby helping drive the state into financial ruin. He’s also said that state employee health plans are generous compared to other states’ plans, as well as private-sector health plans.

Rauner, a businessman who made $60.8 million in 2013, is taking a state paycheck of just a $1 a year as governor. He’s faced Democratic criticism, though, for paying key non-union members of his administration more than Quinn did, even as he has been critical of the salaries paid to state workers.

To view a full-screen version of the state payroll database by agency, click here. To search and sort salaries of individual employees in full-screen format, click here (note: it’s a large file and may take time to load).

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