CHICAGO - Whose fault was the passage of that 2007 pension amendment that opened the way for lobbyists to substitute teach one day and buy into the lucrative teachers' union pension later? House Speaker Mike Madigan's without a doubt, Republican faithful would say.
But the Chicago Tribune's story about yet another teacher union lobbyist raking in a six figure pension and their follow-up editorial challenging Illinoisans to hold their lawmakers accountable stirred our curiosity: just who voted how on SB 36 that passed days after the November 2006 election?
It took a little searching, but we found the links to the roll calls and found why only the Illinois Republican Party, and not Republican caucus leaders, voiced public outrage about the Madigan pension law debacle.
"By creating a pension loophole for a former aide who also served as a lobbyist for one of his largest campaign contributors, Mike Madigan has made a mockery of our state's pension system," said Brady.
The problem is that it wasn't just Mike Madigan that did it. Republicans in both the then-Republican-controlled Illinois Senate and Democrat- House supported the measure, too.
In fact, SB 36 was co-sponsored in the Illinois Senate by retired Republican Senator Rick Winkel of Champaign. The pension law changes the Illinois House made to SB 36 passed the Illinois Senate November 30, 2006 with a unanimous concurrence vote. Only State Senator Dale Risinger voted "present." Peter Roskam, who had just been elected to his first term in Congress, was not available to vote, as neither was Adeline Geo-Karis or Rickey Hendon.
And the changes made by Mike Madigan in the Democrat-controlled House were approved by all Republican House members, except six GOP state reps - Bob Churchill, Shane Cultra, then-Minority Leader Lee Daniels, David Leitch, Keith Sommer and Dave Winters.
Leitch told the Chicago Tribune that he was always suspicious of any pension deals being pushed through in veto sessions.
"Gail Purkey worked for Illinois taxpayers as a state employee for less than seven years yet Madigan sponsored a pension loophole that allows her to get pension credits for her years working for a private organization that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Madigan over the years," said Brady.
"This is an insult to every taxpayer and to every state trooper, prison guard, social worker, and all other hard-working, honest state employees," said Brady.
"Like they did with the last pension funding scheme, the General Assembly needs to immediately take back this undeserved state pension," said Brady. "And more importantly, it's time we fire Mike Madigan as Speaker of the House this November."
There's no doubt reason to be upset about the pension bill that is mocking the pension plan's original purpose - to provide for those in need during their golden years. And Republicans should be cautious about throwing stones at other parties in this case, because SB 36 passed the Illinois General Assembly with the help of both Democrats and Republicans.