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Lawmaker resigns, takes Quinn appointment and pay raise

tom-holbrook

SPRINGFIELD — Another legislator who earlier this year voted to raise corporate and personal income tax rates in Illinois found a soft landing in Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

By Andrew Thomason

SPRINGFIELD — Another legislator who earlier this year voted to raise corporate and personal income tax rates in Illinois found a soft landing in Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

Quinn this week named former state Rep. Tom Holbrook, D-Belleville, to the Illinois Pollution Control Board where he'll pull down a salary topping $117,000.

Holbrook gave up his seat and the intention of seeking re-election just a week after he said he would seek re-election in the Illinois House, a position with a base pay of $67,000.

Quinn forcefully denied that Holbrook's "yes" vote, when the state House passed the tax hikes by a vote of 60-47, had anything to do with his appointment.

"Absolutely not. I've known Tom a long time. He's been a member of the House Energy and Environment Committee since he arrived 16 or so years ago (in the Legislature). He's a very solid guy in my opinion, and that's why I appointed him," Quinn said.

The vote in January and signature by Quinn raised personal income taxes by 67 percent and corporate income taxes by 47 percent. It's expected to generated $6.5 billion annually.

Calls by Illinois Statehouse News to Holbrook were not returned.

Holbrook was among about 70 appointments Quinn made Monday evening to comply with a new law that took effect Tuesday.

The law ousts people serving in a position whose term has been expired for more than 60 day.

Another former member of the House, Bob Biggins, R-Elmhurst, was named by Quinn to the Northeastern Illinois University Board of Trustees.

Biggins enraged fellow Republicans in 2010 when he voted to borrow $3.7 billion to make payments to the public pension funds. Questions swirled as to whether he struck a deal with Quinn for his vote.

"If that happened we will, I'm sure, know sooner rather than later," House GOP Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said minutes after Biggins' 2010 vote.

Unlike Holbrook, Biggins' new post doesn't come with pay or benefits.

Quinn's appointments come less than a year after a failed attempt to place former Democratic Rep. Careen Gordon, also a "yes" vote on the corporate and personal income tax increase, in an $86,000 a year position on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. He later pulled that nomination amid criticism.

But Quinn did recommend Gordon for a job with the Illinois Department of Finance and Regulation that pays $84,000 annually.

David Morrison, assistant executive director for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, a nonprofit that lobbies for campaign finance reform and transparency in government, said knowing exactly what was discussed behind closed doors is impossible.

"It's very difficult to know what induced the governor to make that appointment. That said, it can also look awful to someone on the outside," Morrison said.

Morrison blamed much of the public's cynicism surrounding Illinois government on the person responsible for Quinn having to name new appointees — former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich was convicted earlier this year of lying to the FBI.

The reappointment law, commonly referred as the fumigation law, was intended to oust Blagojevich appointees. He was notorious for allowing people with expired terms to continue to serve, sometimes for years.

State senators decried this practice, because they vote to approve or disapprove gubernatorial nominees.

"Pat Quinn is going to have to wrestle with that legacy now that he is appointing people to boards and commissions," Morrison said. "The question still comes up: Did they do something else to earn that board or commission appointment?"

Holbrook, Biggins and the other appointees need the Senate's approval before their appointments become official.

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