MATTOON – State representative candidate Brad Halbrook is taking issue with current Rep. Roger Eddy’s drawing a salary not only as state lawmaker but as a school superintendent as well.
Halbrook included Mattoon in a campaign stop Thursday and said if he’s elected he’d decline the health insurance and pension that members of the General Assembly receive. Both those contribute to what amounts to a roughly $283,000 draw from taxpayers by Eddy each year, he claimed.
“That is double-dipping,” Halbrook said. “I want to take it a step farther.”
Halbrook, a rural Shelbyville resident, is running as a Republican in the newly drawn House 110th District that includes Coles County. Eddy, R-Hutsonville, previously represented the 109th District but lives in the new 110th. Republican Kevin Garner of rural Toledo is also running for the seat as a Republican; there are no Democratic candidates.
Halbrook provided copies of his last three years’ tax returns, which showed income before deductions of $65,380 for 2010, $33,212 for 2009 and $53,630 for 2008. He said he considers state representative to be a part-time job and he plans to continue to operate the fence-building business he owns.
“There is no reason to shut that down,” he said.
Contacted Thursday, Eddy said his salary information is public record and Halbrook’s declining the state representative insurance and pension would be “his prerogative.” With his contract as Hutsonville school superintendent, he’s paid per day on the job, not while he’s in Springfield or handling other state representative duties, he said.
“I do perform two jobs,” Eddy said. “I consistently work more days than I’m paid for.”
He also noted Illinois’ failure to make its contribution to state employee pension funds. He argued that if all employees declined to participate, there could be no money to fund pension payments to those already retired.
When he was contacted Thursday, Garner said he’s campaigning to “make Illinois a better place” and didn’t want to comment on Halbrook’s contentions.
“Businesses are leaving our state in droves and we’re being taxed to death,” he said.
Garner said he owns a trucking company and an auction company and also works as a construction company service manager, earning about $36,000 a year. He said if he’s elected he’d only keep the auction company but quit the other jobs.
Halbrook made his campaign trip to Mattoon accompanied by Adam Adrzejewski, a former candidate for governor who now heads a political action committee that’s endorsed Halbrook. Adrzejewski said Eddy’s salaries from his two jobs total about $182,000 but the amount of taxpayer money is more because of contributions to pensions and other benefits.
State pension costs are based on several factors, Eddy responded, including how a long a recipient lives, which can’t be predicted.
“They’re trying to make my salary look higher,” he said.
Adrzejewski and Halbrook also criticized Eddy for his education funding proposals, which Halbrook said called for “spending money on education they didn’t have.” Adrzejewski called the legislation Eddy co-sponsored creating a sales tax that provides revenue to schools with voter approval “a failed piece of public policy.”
Eddy defended the school sales tax as a way for schools to increase income and possibly reduce property taxes. He said it was part of his plan as a state legislator to try to find ways to lower property taxes.
“One way to do that is a swap,” he said. “It’s a choice for the people to determine.”
Halbrook’s current residence is the old 109th District but not in the current 110th. He said he’ll move to inside the 110th if he’s elected, however.
Contact Fopay at email@example.com or 238-6858.
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