Comments from State Senator Jim Oberweis, State Senator Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), State Senator Sam McCann (R-Litchfield), State Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago
State Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) -
“As one of the few lawmakers who actually sat down and read through the entire bill, 325 pages, I have some concerns about what is included in this bill and what is not included in this bill. Senate Bill 1 does offer future employees the option of defined-contribution plans, similar to one of the provisions in a plan I offered in April; however, that option is only made available to 5 percent of the employees, which I question. And there is also no guarantee that the money saved by these reforms will actually be used to pay down debt, instead of being used for new programs,” Oberweis said.
“This bill is not true reform, but it seems to be the best we can get at this time. State officials have made pension benefit promises they knew or should have known they couldn’t possibly keep. We must take action now and resolve these issues for our state’s long-term fiscal health,” he added. “While this bill doesn’t really solve our problems, it is at least a step in the right direction.”
State Senator Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) -
“This is a good bill that will achieve real savings for the taxpayers, better protect the pensions of lower-paid, longer-serving public employees and stabilize state finances,” said Radogno. “This legislation is fair for both taxpayers and the workers who count on the pension systems.”
The 41st District Senator noted that while all state retirees are asked to sacrifice, the legislation was crafted to protect those who have worked the longest and receive the most modest pensions. Cost of living increases will be reduced, but not eliminated, and pension benefits will still grow. The caps on pensionable salary will only apply to those earning more than six figures, and retirement age will not change for employees 46 or older.
“Passing this bill with bipartisan support will demonstrate to the credit rating agencies and job creators that we are serious about turning Illinois around,” said Radogno. “This is not the only step we need to get Illinois back on track—but it is a significant step.”
State Senator Sam McCann (R-Litchfield) -
“I have made it clear for months that I will only support negotiated, effective pension reform that brings all sides to the table and makes the state’s pension systems solvent,” said Senator McCann. “While there are some aspects of this bill that might have a positive effect, the lack of transparency and the fact that all stakeholders weren't at the negotiation table are just two of the massive failures of this bill.”
While supporters claim the bill will save $160 billion over 30 years, McCann says much of the perceived savings are nothing more than accounting gimmicks.
“This bill would require employees to pay less into the system, the state to pay less into the system, and would cut benefits to thousands of retired state workers and retirees. That is not sound policy,” said McCann.
State Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) -
“For the past several years, many pension reform proposals have been presented to the General Assembly including my own reform proposal. SB1 proposed today is just as unconstitutional as the first version. Although many good things were added into the new version, I don’t believe this proposal will pass constitutional muster. The greatest risk for the taxpayers is for the state to believe it has created true reform and then come back and have it taken away later. This is a risk I am unwilling to take. “
State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) -
“Due to the severity of our State’s pension crisis, I made the difficult decision to support SB1 that will provide a better certainty and security to public pensions going forward. Pension reform in Illinois is inevitable. I believe our State employees have worked hard and faithfully, and deserve a retirement plan that is dependable but at the same time affordable for taxpayers. Change is never easy, but the adjustments in SB1 are essential to create stabilization within our pensions systems to have the reassurance that we will continue to offer good retirement benefits to our teachers and public sector employees.”
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac) -
“The will of the General Assembly is the adoption of current pension reform legislation,” said State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. “Litigation is inevitable, and I hope that the courts issue an expedited ruling as to the constitutionality of the legislation. The sooner the better, so we can move our great state forward.”
State Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap) -
“I take no joy in making this vote today. During my short tenure in the Illinois Senate, I have been consistent in my support for pension reform – not as a means to harm teachers, state workers or retirees, but more to help stabilize our state’s terrible finances. The fiscal damage created by two former Governors, who are convicted felons, has caused our state to be on the ‘hook’ for $105 billion in unfunded liability,” LaHood said. “I did not help create this pension problem, but now I have an obligation to move our state forward. If nothing is done, there will be no public pension left. Our state’s fiscal calamity, largely driven by that shortfall, is among the nation’s worst and per capita is the nation’s worst-funded system. We have to do better, not just for retirees, active employees or even to improve bond rating – but just to maintain our state’s fiscal health.”