GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KMOV) – A bill giving a sanitary district the power to increase benefits for its commissioners is drawing criticism from lawmakers in the same district.

As of Friday, a bill awaiting the signature of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker would give commissioners with the Metro East Sanitary District the ability to offer part-time commissioners full-time benefits.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D) and Sen. Chris Belt (D) are sponsoring the bill. MESD is in both lawmakers’ districts. During a Senate hearing, Sen. Belt said the bill allows MESD to handle the matter internally, and it would put the district on par with other districts in the state.

Metro East Republican Senators Erica Harriss and Jason Plummer voted against the bill.

“That’s not something many regular citizens are afforded,” Harriss told News 4. “Do we want to allow part-time commissioners, who are meeting one meeting a month to be able to–not only just receive health benefits, but vote themselves health benefits. This bill affected a small area of the state, and we have people from all over the state–Chicago senators are voting to put this burden on our Madison- and St. Clair-area Metro East taxpayers. I absolutely feel like bigger priorities are being ignored with this legislation. People in our area are, absolutely, having flooding issues.”

MESD is headquartered in Granite City. It operates and maintains miles of levees, sewers and stormwater pump stations. Just last month, the executive director of MESD attended a press conference in Cahokia Heights asking for more funding from local, state and federal officials to alleviate flooding issues.

Pritzker’s office told News 4 the governor will review the bill but didn’t state if he would sign it before the end of the session.

Rep. Hoffman, Sen. Belt and MESD didn’t get back to News 4 with a comment as of Friday afternoon.

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