Ending Advance Pay for Legislators

Public Act 79-1333

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead

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On July 31, 1976, Gov. Dan Walker signed legislation (Public Act 79-1333) ending Illinois’ century-old practice which allowed state legislators to receive their entire annual salary on their first day in office. Under previous Illinois law, even if an Illinois legislator died, resigned, or went to jail, the legislator was allowed to keep a whole year’s paycheck collected on the day of being sworn in.

The state law which finally stopped advance pay for legislators was made possible by the Coalition for Political Honesty which organized the largest petition drive in Illinois history.

More than 13,000 volunteer petition passers across the state collected 635,158 signatures on behalf of the Political Honesty Initiative which sought to end advance pay for legislators, eliminate legislative double dipping, and prohibit conflict-of-interest voting by legislators.

Radio host Wally Phillips of WGN-AM was among the Political Honesty Initiative petition signers and one of its greatest supporters.

Political Honesty Initiative petitions were filed with the Secretary of State at the State Capitol on April 30, 1976, leading the General Assembly to quickly pass a bill in May 1976, ending the 100-year-old advance pay practice once and for all by requiring legislators to be paid monthly after doing their work.