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Senator Cunningham refuses to take legislative pay hike
CHICAGO – State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) has rejected a “back door” pay raise that legislators tucked away in this year’s state budget and will instead donate his additional salary for the fiscal year to two local charities focused on providing support to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Cunningham will forward the additional $180 a month in pay he was slated to receive to Park Lawn and the Sertoma Centre, headquartered in Oak Lawn and Alsip, respectively. Both agencies focus on providing care and resources to the developmentally disabled populations of southwest Cook County.
Park Lawn was founded in 1955 by a small group of parents working to fund efforts to provide greater services to the developmentally disabled. Today it serves over 200 individuals. The Sertoma Centre, located in Alsip, fulfills a parallel mission providing opportunities that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve personal success.
“These two organizations provide services and resources to a population that is often overlooked and underserved,” Cunningham said. “It’s a modest donation, but when it comes to running a non-profit, every bit helps”.
The new state budget ends the previous practice of lawmakers being required to take 12 unpaid furlough days over the course of the year. Those furloughs are equal to more than $2,100 in take-home pay annually. Cunningham opted to donate the money to Park Lawn and Sertoma not only because of the excellent work they do, but because they both provide services to Illinois social service agencies and sometimes have to wait months to receive contractual payments from the state.