Illinois state Rep. Charles Meier (R-Okawville)
After leaders in the General Assembly scuttled a bill blocking a constitutionally mandated pay increase, Illinois state Rep. Charles Meier (R-Okawville) has pledged to donate his raise to five local charities.
“We don’t deserve this pay raise,” Meier told the Metro East Sun. “I sit there in committees and watch them not be fiscally responsible. In one committee there was $30 million left. Instead of having the leftover money go to reduce past debt, they just kept giving it away.”
Meier explained the leftover funds could have paid state suppliers like nursing homes, small pharmacies or even a vendor who sold tires to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“They could have been paid,” Meier said. “Instead, we’re paying interest to them, after three months, and our costs continue to go up.”
According to Herald Publications, the lawmakers’ raise was $1,628 annually. Meier said he added some personal funds so he could donate an even $2,000 – split five ways, or $400 given to each charity selected.
“Instead of giving it back to Illinois, I gave it to organizations that make a big difference in our area that could use the money," Meier said. "[That way] I know where it’s going and how it’s going to get used.”
Those groups are Caritas Family Solutions, Community Link, Hoyleton Ministries, the Relevant Pregnancy Options Center and the Washington County Vocational Workshop.
“Relevant in Highland is a wonderful organization helping pregnant women,” Meier said. “Hoyleton runs programs for youth to help them get jobs and get settled in and become a productive part of life.”
Some Hoyleton benefactors have thanked Meier for his past involvement, sometimes calling him at Christmas and expressing their gratitude for his support.
“One girl walked into my office and said she was rebuilding her relationship with her mom,” Meier recalled. “She said, ‘If I stay here and finish my school, my children will have a more normal life.’”
Meier said he hopes other like-minded lawmakers will follow his example and donate their pay raises to suitable charities.
“I hope that others do,” he said. “We have a senator and a representative filing a court case to get all these raises from the past years. That’s ridiculous. Now they’re going to go to court and make Illinois pay money that it doesn’t have.”