• Castro passes pension consolidation program

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  • Pension loophole closed under new Link law

    Sen. Terry LinkSPRINGFIELD – After a high-profile loophole allowed several Lake County Board members to draw their Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension while still serving on the county board, State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) passed a proposal to end the practice.

    On Friday, Link’s proposal was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker.

    “No elected official should be both serving in office while also drawing a retirement check for the work done in that capacity,” Link said. “It is a clear violation of the public trust and an integrity issue, as county board members have the ability to pass measures that could increase their own retirement benefits.”

  • The Majority Report - Week ending May 11, 2018 (AUDIO)

    The Majority Report - May 11, 2018 - Pensions, bigotry, K2 capture Senate's attention

  • Rauner plan on pension cost could cut programs, increase property taxes

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  • Cunningham: Governor's veto of bipartisan firefighter pension bill troubling


  • Morrison’s plan to end municipal pension abuse signed into law

    morrison 082817SPRINGFIELD – A plan passed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) that would end the practice of local government officials using vehicle allowances to boost their future pension payments was signed into law on Friday by the governor.

    “Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for an inflated pension for a mayor because they received a vehicle allowance,” Morrison said. “The practice of endlessly adding sweeteners to pension plans is one of the reasons so many pension funds are in poor fiscal health.”

    While is it is not uncommon for local governmental officials to have access to taxpayer-purchased vehicles or receive vehicle allowances for use in conducting city business, several suburban officials have the ability of using their vehicle allowance perk to boost their pension payments when they retire.

    Morrison’s new law, which was contained in Senate Bill 701, will exclude vehicle allowances from the definition of earnings, changing current Illinois law to prohibit the perk from increasing a future pension.

    Senate Bill 701 passed the Senate without opposition in May and takes effect immediately.

  • Biss: Taxpayers deserve clarity about fees paid by public pension funds

    biss 052917SPRINGFIELD – Private equity firms would have to disclose the currently secret investment fees they charge to Illinois’ public pension funds under legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that was approved in the Senate Monday.

    These sometimes lucrative fees charged by private equity firms and hedge fund managers are exempt from disclosure to taxpayers under Illinois sunshine laws. Even the boards that oversee the pension funds are kept in the dark about some fees.

    Biss maintains that this kind of secrecy flies in the face of a steadily growing national and global movement toward more transparency.

    “This is not a time for Illinois taxpayers to be paying fees they don’t know about,” he said. “If you’re concerned about the asset levels in the pension funds, you should be concerned about the fees you’re paying. That is the only expenditure that is secret from you right now.”

    Senate Bill 779 would attempts to increase the state’s pension funds’ investment transparency by requiring that:

    • pension systems disclose agreements with alternative investment funds and certain provisions of those agreements;
    • alternative investment fund managers and general partners disclose certain investment fees paid directly or indirectly to the alternative investment fund;
    • if an investment fund utilizes the Institutional Limited Partners Association template, the fund will be in compliance with the disclosure requirements;
    • disclosures would be published on the systems’ websites and subject to FOIA.

    The provisions of Senate Bill 779 would apply to every large retirement system or pension fund regulated by the Illinois Pension Code, as well as the Illinois State Board of Investment. The disclosure requirements would apply to new agreements proposed or executed after Jan. 1, 2018.

    The Teachers Retirement System, the largest system in Illinois, currently has nearly $8.5 billion invested and committed to the private equity asset class.

    According to a 2015 ranking by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, the country’s 25 top-earning hedge fund managers raked in an estimated $11.6 billion in 2014. The previous year, the top 25 collectively earned nearly double that, estimated to be more than $21 billion.

    Comparatively, the aggregate pay for all of the kindergarten teachers in the nation in 2014 was an estimated $8.5 billion.

    “Common sense says that if we have that greater level of transparency, we’ll pay lower fees and have better returns,” Biss said. “We should know the fees we pay, and that knowledge will allow us to negotiate better deals on our pension funds. That’s a winning formula for taxpayers.”

    Senate Bill 779 now will go to the House for consideration.

  • Bertino-Tarrant applauds decision to take away Hastert pension

    BertinoTarrant03072017SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement in response to the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) board voting to take away Dennis Hastert’s pension:

    “Dennis Hastert used his trusted position as a teacher and coach to prey on his young victims. I am glad that the board voted to ensure he doesn’t receive his taxpayer-subsidized pension.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant: I am glad Hastert’s pension was suspended

    jbt hastertPLAINFIELD — State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement in response to the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) board voting to suspend former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s $28,000 pension from his time as a state lawmaker:

    “I applaud the board’s decision. I’m glad the General Assembly Retirement Board made the right decision. Hastert is a child predator who should not get public pensions. The taxpayers should not have to pay for his retirement.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant: Lobbyists prevented from getting public pensions under new law

    JBT 082316SPRINGFIELD— Employees of lobbying entities would be ineligible for a taxpayer-funded pension under a new law spearheaded by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

    House Bill 4259 was signed into law by the governor Friday.

    Under the law, employees of certain organizations can no longer collect a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).

  • Bennett praises measure to clean up state’s pension rolls

    bennett 040616CHAMPAIGN – Illinois taxpayers will benefit from a new law that encourages state pension funds to regularly review their rolls for deceased recipients.
    The measure, an initiative of Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), gives the funds until Jan. 1, 2017, to implement a process to identify deceased annuitants at least once a month.

    “We need to do whatever we can to end the waste of taxpayer dollars,” Bennett said. “This is one simple way for the state to save money and promote the responsible use of funds.”

    It is unclear how many state pension payments are made to deceased annuitants in Illinois because each pension fund tracks death-related overpayments differently. 

    Under the new law (House Bill 6030), the review process can include using a third-party company, Social Security Administration data or other available data, as well as any other method that is commonly used by other state retirement systems.

    In 2015, Better Government Association published a report that alleged various Illinois public retirement systems were paying annuities to deceased people.

  • Bertino-Tarrant: Employees at lobbying entities shouldn’t get taxpayer funded pensions

    jbt lobby pensionSPRINGFIELD— Employees of lobbying entities would be ineligible for a taxpayer-funded pension under legislation recently passed out of the Illinois Senate by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). 

    Under Bertino-Tarrant’s plan, employees of certain organizations would no longer be able to collect a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).

    “These pension systems shouldn’t be serving lobbying groups,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This makes no sense. The taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay these pensions.”

    Bertino-Tarrant’s commonsense proposal corrects a loophole in existing law.

    Currently, employees of these associations are eligible for a pension through IMRF, SURS or TRS.

    Amedia investigation found that former Illinois Association of Park Districts Executive Director Ted Flickinger had the third highest annual pension in IMRF at more than $245,000 annually. His salary was also boosted before he retired, which increased his pension. 

    “Ted Flickinger’s case is one example of the type of excessiveness that needs to stop,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Expensive pension perks for lobbyists and lobbying groups must be eliminated.” 

    Employees with the Illinois Principals Association or the Illinois Association of School Administrators can also currently receive a SURS retirement. An employee of a school board association can get a TRS pension.

    The changes made in Bertino-Tarrant’s legislation would apply to individuals employed by an identified organization after the law becomes effective.

    House Bill 4259 has already passed the Illinois House. It will now go to the governor’s desk for approval.

  • Tom Cullerton passes measure to eliminate government waste

    tc pensionSPRINGFIELD- Between 2010 and 2014, 11 of Illinois’ 15 major government pension funds have made $2.2 million in payments to more than 1,000 dead people.

    To end this practice, State Senator Tom Cullerton passed House Bill 6030 to require state pension funds to develop and implement a process to identify deceased pension recipients each month.

    “This is a simple way to reduce waste, fraud and abuse of valuable taxpayer dollars,” Cullerton said. “Reviewing the pension rolls monthly will allow for greater oversight and accountability of where pension funds are going.”

  • Senator Bertino-Tarrant: Strip Hastert of public pensions

    Dennis Hastert

    “I don’t want taxpayers’ dollars providing a retirement to this predator.”

    PLAINFIELD— Illinois State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said Thursday that former U.S. House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert is a disgrace to teachers and lawmakers and should be stripped of all taxpayer-funded pensions from past jobs.

    “I don’t want taxpayers’ dollars providing a retirement to this predator,” Bertino-Tarrant said. She sent a letter Thursday to the General Assembly Retirement System asking that it immediately take steps to suspend and revoke Hastert’s public pension benefits.

    On Wednesday, Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison for bank fraud stemming from efforts to cover up sex abuse dating back to his time as a teacher in Yorkville. Hastert later went on to serve in the Illinois General Assembly before being elected to Congress and rising to become the powerful U.S. House Speaker. He had qualified for pension benefits for his tenure as a teacher, state lawmaker and congressman.

    Illinois’ Teachers Retirement System canceled Hastert’s pension on Wednesday. However, the General Assembly system has not. Media reports have put his state lawmaker pension at roughly $28,000 annually.

    Bertino-Tarrant said taxpayers have no duty to provide retirement benefits to someone who betrayed them and victimized children.

    “Knowing what we know now, he would have been fired and jailed decades ago and would have lost his teacher’s pension and never had the chance to be a lawmaker, let alone get a pension. We have a chance to set the record straight. We should do so immediately as part of the effort to restore the public’s trust,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    Her letter to the General Assembly Retirement System is here.

  • $100 billion and counting

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  • Senate President on GOP pension proposal

    jjc pens gop 012116SPRINGFIELD - The following statement was released by Senate President John J. Cullerton regarding Republican leaders’ pension proposal:

    “The governor called me this morning to say he was going to back my ideas for pension reform. The plan he outlined at his news conference isn’t what we talked about. It’s not my plan. It goes beyond what we discussed and beyond what I support.

    “We apparently still have a fundamental disagreement over the role of collective bargaining in this process, in the sense that I think collective bargaining should continue to exist and the governor does not.

  • Martinez calls for pension systems to promote diversity during hearing

    martienz youthemplCHICAGO- Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) participated in a two-day Senate Special Committee on Pensions and Investments Hearing this week regarding the diversity of pension investment managers.

    “It became apparent at this hearing that more work needs to be done by public employee pension systems to meet diversity goals,” Martinez said. “I’m particularly concerned that the numbers for Latinos are low.”

  • Trotter: A crucial commitment undone

    trotter bodycamsCHICAGO – Pensions for hardworking Illinoisans will be put at risk, once again. State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) released the following statement in response to the comptroller’s announced plan to delay November, and possibly December, payments to pension funds.

    “Failing to make our important pension payments is another crucial commitment undone by the governor’s refusal to negotiate in good faith,” Trotter said. “Skipping payments only exacerbates Illinois’ $100 million pension debt and will continue to hurt the hard-working people of this state.”

  • Holmes: Repeated mistakes will not solve crisis

    holmes locgovsSPRINGFIELD — In response to the recent announcement from the comptroller’s office that Illinois will skip its November pension payments, Senator Linda Holmes (D–Aurora) has issued the following statement:

    “I am deeply disappointed to see this administration repeat the same mistakes that got us into the budget crisis we are currently in with respect to the State's pensions,” Holmes said. "We cannot ignore our legal obligation to make our full pension payment. We need to resolve the budget impasse. We cannot continue to hold the budget hostage over non-budget items and incur more financial burden on the state down the road. I oppose this measure and I hope Comptroller Munger reconsiders.”

  • Biss: Munger, Rauner repeating Illinois' most devastating mistakes

    biss snapSPRINGFIELD — In response to the recent announcement from the comptroller’s office that Illinois will skip its November pension payments, Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston) has issued the following statement:

    The budget impasse continues to wreak havoc on the people of Illinois, and the longer we go without a resolution, the more pain that will be felt. With each day comes more news about Illinoisans unable to get basic services, devastating nonprofit closures and additional mistakes that will take far longer to remedy than they take to create.

    Indeed, just this week, Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that she will not make the state's November pension payment, a practice that has indisputably led to the current condition of our state pension systems.

    Skipping this payment is simply repeating the biggest mistake of our past, and it puts our state's fiscal stability at even greater risk. We know what happens when we short our pension systems, and credit agencies do, too.

    For all the talk about getting rid of “business as usual” in Springfield, this certainly feels like more of the same.