Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2012, 5:57 pm

Two state tax hike supporters receive lucrative appointments

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Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD – Two former Democratic lawmakers who voted for a"temporary" 67-percent state income tax hike last year were approvedby the Illinois Senate for taxpayer-funded jobs on Wednesday.

Senators voted 33-16 to confirm the appointment of former state Rep.Bob Flider as director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.Flider, of Mount Zion, earns $133,273 a year in the post.

He has noagriculture experience but was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn inFebruary.Flider voted for the temporary tax hike during the January 2011lame-duck legislative session after campaigning against it during the2010 election, which he lost.

Republican Sen. Dale Righter of Mattoon pointed out that Fliderflip-flopped by voting for the tax hike after campaigning against it.But Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, defended Flider, saying he has
done a capable job in the Agriculture post.

Righter said Illinoisans increasingly "look at the Capitol buildingwith disgust" over such appointments.

"They say, 'You know what? That building more and more is filled withpeople who are taking care of each other,'" he said.

Most of the votes against Flider's appointment came from Republicans.Voting against it were Republican senators Tim Bivins, Bill Brady, DanDuffy, Christine Johnson, John O. Jones, Darin LaHood, Chris Lauzen,Dave Luechtefeld, Sam McCann, Kyle McCarter, Matt Murphy, Christine
Radogno, Sue Rezin, Righter and Ron Sandack. Sen. William Haine wasthe only Democrat to vote against the confirmation.

The Senate also confirmed the appointment of former state Rep. MikeSmith of Canton to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, aposition that pays about $94,000 a year. Quinn first nominated Smithfor the three-year appointment in June 2011.

Smith also voted in favor of the temporary tax hike after losing hisbid for re-election.

Smith's appointment was confirmed in a 33-21 vote Wednesday. Bivinsnoted that Smith is unqualified to sit on the board under statestatute because he lacks the required five years of direct experience
in labor and employment relations.

Sen. David Koehler, a Democrat, said the auditor general weighed in onthe matter and determined that Smith had enough experience during his16 years as a state representative to qualify for the post. Smith wasa member of and chairman of the House Elementary and SecondaryEducation Committee when he was a representative.

Only Republican senators voted against Smith's appointment. They weresenators Pamela Althoff, Bivins, Larry Bomke, Brady, Duffy, ChristineJohnson, Thomas Johnson, Jones, LaHood, Lauzen, Luechtefeld, McCann,McCarter, Murphy, Carole Pankau, Radogno, Rezin, Righter, Sandack,
Suzi Schmidt and Dave Syverson.

The House does not vote on executive appointments.