- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois state senator is suggesting lowering starting salaries for judges in Illinois.

Republican Sen. Darin LaHood of Peoria made the comments during a Senate appropriations committee hearing Thursday in which Chief Justice Rita Garmin presented the court system’s annual budget request.

Lawmakers are grappling with an estimated $1.5 billion loss in revenue if the state’s income tax increase expires as scheduled.

Lowering salaries of sitting judges is not an option because it is prohibited by the state’s constitution.

The Illinois Policy Institute says the state’s judges are among the highest paid in the United States. But Garmin says she’s worried that lowering the starting salaries would adversely affect the quality of judges on the bench.

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