Are you in line to get a pay raise next month?
If you're an Illinois lawmaker, you are. Your $67,836 base salary will get a $1,600-a-year bump from us taxpayers, the first increase in compensation for the General Assembly since 2008.
The July 1 hike is because of language inserted into budget legislation that sailed through without much notice ahead of the session's close.
This kind of sleight of hand is common because of a time-honored tradition among the 177 men and women we send to Springfield to represent us: The faux rush to the finish.
Lawmakers have been descending on the Statehouse since January, but only in the last few days before the May 31 adjournment does anything really get happening.
Some of it is the natural sausage-making of laws. Watch an hour of C-SPAN to get a sense of this. Democracy relies on input.
The bigger reason, however, is that running to the deadline makes it easier to dodge serious questions from constituents, lobbyists and media. In a more practical sense, lawmakers can say the last few days of the session are a whirlwind of bills and changes.
Consider that the 1,581-page state budget totaling $40 billion was released on Saturday morning, 12 hours before the lawmakers were set to go home. Not a single one before then had seen the spending document, a tangle of numbers and sections that outlined appropriations for education, state agencies and other parts of government.
Yet it sailed through.
Before that, lawmakers approved legalizing recreational marijuana, an abortions-rights bill and a voter referendum on the graduated income tax.
Then they went back over the weekend in overtime and hammered out a whole bunch more major legislation, from a new Chicago casino to big tax increases on fuel and cigarettes to a $45 billion capital build for roads, bridges and construction projects.
We know that those deals were cut a long time ago. The rush is a charade.
This is not new and not unique to Illinois. Legislatures from Vermont to Minnesota this spring voted on major issues in the last-minute fashion.
Illinois, however, has turned budgetary tricks into a fine art form, and our state is weaker because of it. By drawing out the process, deals are struck and the process gets murky.
This round, first-time Gov. J.B. Pritzker is able to declare victory on several parts of his agenda. Compared to the insanity that surrounded GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's years-long budget impasse, Pritzker can say the budget that passed was balanced (or at least as far as we know right now).
But it's saying something that lawmakers had to go into overtime despite one party controlling the whole show. Democrats have supermajorities -- a virtual lock on both chambers.
The General Assembly finishes the session by punting on core issues with overdue bills, workers compensation costs, pensions and structurally deficient budget practices that will continue to harm our state.
They did, however, vote to increase taxes -- and their own pay.