A press release from State Rep. Kent Gaffney:
Gaffney backs legislation to end pension abuses
Springfield, IL… In response to numerous WGN and Chicago Tribune probes into fraud and abuse of Illinois’ public pension systems, State Representative Kent Gaffney (R-Lake Barrington) is co-sponsoring legislation aimed at closing pension loopholes and ending the abuse of the pension systems.
The State’s pension loophole stems from a law passed in 1991 that bases the city pensions on the labor leaders’ union salaries as opposed to the lower salaries they had as city employees.
A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation unveiled 23 retired union officials from Chicago who will collect about $56 million from two city pension funds.
The Tribune probe also found two Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyists who served as a substitute teacher for a day, enrolling them in a near $108,000 public pension, more than double the salary of the average Illinois teacher.
“These appalling reports are just one of the many reasons why our state pension systems need to be fundamentally reformed,” said Gaffney.
“Fraud and abuse should never be tolerated in any form of government. To take advantage of a system that is already teetering on failure is simply inexcusable.”
The legislation, House Bill 3813, will reform these pension loopholes by:
- Prohibiting union officials from earning a pension based on their union salary, rather than their public salary. For all leaves of absence and service credit earned while employed by a union going forward will be based on the salary the employee had before the leave of absence.
- Ending Union Official Double Dipping
- Reporting fraudulent activity to the State’s Attorney
Current law allows city employees to take a leave of absence and continue earning pension credit in the Chicago funds if they continue to make payments to the fund. They then qualify for a pension based on their union salary that the City of Chicago has no control in setting. These employees also earn credit for additional pensions by an interpretation to a stipulation in the law. This interpretation has led to many employees earning multiple pensions as well as one from the City of Chicago, all for the same work.
HB 3813 passed the Illinois House today on a roll call of 111-3-1.