School board member Cramer considers Rep. Casten's support of legislative pay raises a red flag
District 211 school board member Mark Cramer thinks it says a lot about the motivations of U.S. Rep. Sean Casten that the Illinois congressman strongly supports increasing legislators' pay and benefits as a way of enticing the best candidates into public service.
“It’s interesting that he would say that because he’s pointing a finger at himself,” Cramer told North Cook News. “I think that people run for congress or any elected office because they feel they have something to offer and they want to accomplish something. I think that people who do that put themselves out there and it’s not an easy job, and I think people do it because they want to do the right thing.”
With the U.S. House of Representatives poised to vote on a $1 trillion spending plan that includes what would be the first pay raise for legislators in roughly a decade, Casten, who represents Illinois' 6th Congressional District, recently came out in staunch support of the plan.
“When I ran my company, I paid a competitive wage,” Casten told The Hill. “I didn’t tell people, come here because you’re so committed to our mission that you’re willing to, you know, sleep on your friend’s couch and work for peanuts. It’s horrible that we force people to do that.”
Currently, the House Speaker earns a high of $223,500, with rank-and-file members pocketing salaries of $174,000. With the 2.6-percent increase that would go into effect in early 2020, members would see their pay rise to nearly $179,000, which the U.S. Census Bureau reports is more than three times greater than the $61,372 earned by the average American in 2017.
“It’s not peanuts," Cramer said. "It’s a lot of money to do an important job, but so are people who are police officers and who serve in the military, and they don’t make $174,000 a year. I know it’s expensive to live in D.C., but that statement I think is an insult in the face of people who work very hard for a living.”
Cramer added that, in the end, he cannot think of anything that Washington lawmakers have done recently that would make them deserving of a pay increase.
“I guess I’m speaking specifically about the House of Representatives,” he said. “I don’t think they have any other purpose rather than trashing or diminishing President Trump’s attempt to move the country in a favorable direction. The answer, unequivocally, is no, Congress did not deserve a pay raise."