Where suburban lawmakers hold sway under the state Capitol dome

Suburban lawmakers hold 33 seats across five committees related to appropriations or education and six seats on Senate ethics committee

The Illinois House is pictured Thursday during hours of floor debate in which lawmakers sent several bills to the Senate.

Suburban lawmakers, by their sheer numbers, are on almost every legislative committee in Illinois. But there are some committees, such as appropriations and education in the House and ethics and executive committees in the Senate, where the suburbs have particular sway.

In the House, suburban lawmakers hold 33 seats across five committees relating to appropriations or education.

In the Senate, six suburban lawmakers are on the ethics committee, which has been tasked with drawing up legislative ethics rules in Illinois.

Across all committees in the House and Senate, 28 suburban legislators serve as the chairman or minority spokesperson, a role that carries a $10,574-per-year stipend.

In the 2020 calendar year, legislative pay ranged from $69,500 up to $97,600 for leaders, the Illinois comptroller’s employee salary database shows.

Six suburban representatives sit on the ever-important Appropriations- General Services Committee, including Chairman Fred Crespo, a Democrat from Hoffman Estates, and Vice Chairman Stephanie Kifowit, a Democrat from Oswego. The General Services Committee deals with all funding related to the attorney’s general, state treasurer and governor’s offices.

Crespo’s and Kifowit’s influence in budget talks will be especially prominent in the coming weeks as the General Assembly races to deliver a budget to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk before May 31.

“All of the constitutional officers, all of the agencies under the governor, come before my committee,” Crespo said. “We’ve been looking at all of their budgets at their request, and now I hope that the Republicans and Democrats can come together and agree on a budget before the end of May.”

Tom Weber of Lake Villa and Martin McLaughlin of Barrington Hills are the only two suburban Republicans on the committee. Suzanne Ness of Crystal Lake and Janet Yang-Rohr of Naperville round out the suburban Democratic presence.

Suburban representatives also hold significant influence on the Human Services Appropriations Committee, with eight of them serving. Democrat Anna Moeller of Elgin is the committee’s vice chairman. The committee deals with health care appropriations as well as offices such as the Department of Human Services.

Democrats Terra Costa-Howard of Glen Ellyn, Rita Mayfield of Waukegan, Bob Morgan of Deerfield, Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg, Kathleen Willis of Addison and Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville also sit on the committee. Seth Lewis of Itasca is the only suburban Republican on the committee.

The suburbs have a significant voice on all things education, particularly the committee on elementary and secondary education, where suburban lawmakers hold 11 of 23 seats. Mussman serves as the chair and Crespo sits as the vice chairman. The committee deals with all legislation that mandates or changes policy and learning goals for K-12 schools and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Democrats on the committee include Deb Conroy of Elmhurst, Natalie Manley of Joliet, Joyce Mason of Gurnee, Mayfield, Willis and Yang-Rohr.

Steve Reick of Woodstock and Thomas Morrison of Palatine make up the suburban Republicans on the committee.

Education has been a hot-button topic throughout the legislative session this year, and suburban voices have been a prominent part of the conversations.

Suburban Democrats such as Crespo, Costa-Howard and Kifowit have been among the main voices calling for Pritzker to add $350 million in school funding to the state budget as part of the state’s evidence-based school funding model. Pritzker on Thursday proposed doing so.

In the state Senate, six suburban lawmakers are on the ethics committee. It is chaired by Ann Gillespie, a Democrat from Arlington Heights. She is joined by suburban Democrats Suzy Glowiak Hilton of Western Springs, Julie Morrison of Deerfield, Steve Landek of Bridgeview and Adriane Johnson of Buffalo Grove. John Curran of Downers Grove is the lone suburban Republican on the committee.

Gillespie has moved ethics legislation to the Senate floor that aims to redefine the term “lobbying” and change how legislators must report their financial interests outside lawmaking. The legislation has yet to be called for a third reading, but Gillespie said she still expects it to pass before the May 31 scheduled adjournment.

State Sen. Cristina Castro, an Elgin Democrat, chairs the Senate executive committee. The influential committee is the only committee that Senate President Don Harmon of Oak Park and Minority Leader Dan McConchie of Hawthorn Woods sit on.

Castro is joined by suburban Democrats Linda Holmes of Aurora and Laura Murphy of Des Plaines.

Donald DeWitte of St. Charles is the only suburban Republican on the committee with McConchie.