State lawmakers say they sympathize with service providers and workers facing major state budget cuts. Some aren't quite ready to send back some of their pay in solidarity, though.

State lawmakers say they sympathize with service providers and workers facing major state budget cuts. Some aren't quite ready to send back some of their pay in solidarity, though.

Lawmakers from GateHouse Media areas were split Monday on whether they would take a pay cut if deep budget cuts go forward after July 1.

Legislators are back in town Tuesday for a special session on the budget. They sent Gov. Pat Quinn a spending plan in late May that includes a major spending hole that could force 10,000 state worker layoffs and providers to cut 10 times as many jobs.

Quinn has warned that if lawmakers don't fix the spending mess and approve an income tax increase before the new budget year starts July 1, he'll have no choice but to cut the programs and workers. 

GateHouse-area lawmakers, who have previously said they were opposed to the massive cuts, were asked if they would give half of their paycheck back to the state at the same time other services are cut in half. 

Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Petersburg, said he'd take such a cut but he doesn't think it will be necessary.

"This thing is going to get resolved," Brauer said. "What you see here is the fact that the Democrats got us in this mess and now they're asking us to help them get out of it."

Sen. Dave Koehler said he would be willing to give back half his check and even went one step further.

"If we're going to cut foster families, I would make it a point of saying that there are 177 legislators. Maybe each of us should take on the responsibility of taking care of a foster child," said Koehler, a Peoria Democrat.

Both Rep. Dave Leitch, R-Peoria, and Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said they would not consider giving half of their checks back to the state.

"If everyone in government was taking a 50 percent cut that would be one thing," Syverson said. "I have never accepted a pay raise, never accepted a cost of living increase, and I always donated that plus more to local charities."

"The governor should be cutting bureaucracy instead," Leitch said.

Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, wouldn't commit either way, but like Syverson noted that he had never accepted a pay raise. Bomke added that he annually gives 10 percent of his paycheck back to the state.

Eric Naing can be reached at (217) 782-3095 or eric.naing@sj-r.com. Andrew Thomason can be reached at (217) 782-6882 or andrew.thomason@sj-r.com.