Dan Duffy Reports on Legislative Session

Here’s the email that State Senator Dan Duffy just sent out:

This year’s legislative session was extremely frustrating. Our state is in need of strong leadership. Unfortunately the leaders in charge of Springfield, led by Speaker Michael Madigan, have once again demonstrated a lack of vision. As your representative in Springfield, I am doing my best to bring efficient policies and common sense solutions to state government.

Dan Duffy conversing with a colleague on the Senate floor.

Government transparency issues were once again a major concern in April. The tiny town of Dixon, Illinois made headlines across the country when it was revealed a city administrator had allegedly stolen more than $53 million from city coffers! A bill I introduced two years ago could have brought this to light much earlier. My bill requires all units of local government, including school districts, to post their complete checkbooks online. President Cullerton has stalled my bill in the Senate by not calling it for a vote.This spring I introduced a measure that would make Illinois roads safer and reduce red light camera tickets. The bill had bi-partisan support and passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan has refused to call the bill for a vote in the House. I will continue to work on this issue.

Session adjourned without comprehensive pension reforms passing the General Assembly. Every day we put off addressing our pension problem is another day that our debt will continue to rise and our state’s credit rating will continue to drop. I will continue to fight for fair, constitutionally accurate pension reforms.

It is an honor to serve you in the Illinois State Senate. Your input is critical to our success. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions or concerns!

“One Second for Safety”

This spring Senator Duffy sponsored Senate Bill 3504, a measure to increase safety at intersections equipped with red light cameras. Duffy’s “One Second for Safety” bill would increase yellow light time by one second at intersections equipped with red light cameras. Studies show this has significantly reduced accidents at troubled intersections in other states.

“In addition to making intersections safer and reducing accidents, our ‘One Second for Safety’ bill will also drastically reduce red light camera tickets,” says Duffy. “In the Senate my bill had overwhelming bi-partisan support. The bill’s co-sponsors include both Democrats and Republicans. The Black Caucus worked very closely with me on this bill. Why would Speaker Madigan personally block this legislation from being released to a committee in the House?”

If red light cameras were truly installed for safety reasons and not to generate revenue, Duffy’s bill is a perfect solution. The legislation will not allow municipalities with red light cameras the ability to reduce yellow light time; thereby generating more red light camera revenue. Senator Duffy’s bill is based on solid evidence and undisputed research. According to Duffy, “This bill passed in the
Senate with flying colors. Now one man, Speaker Madigan, has single handedly decided its fate. This isn’t an ethical way to make public policy. People should let their voices be heard,” said Duffy.

Duffy Calls for Transparency in Local Governments

The city of Dixon, Illinois made national headlines after allegations surfaced that a city official had stolen more than $53 million from city coffers. Senator Duffy’s bill, SB 3392, would require local governments and school districts to post their checkbooks online. Duffy believes that providing the public with greater access to this vital information could have prevented the alleged theft in Dixon.

“This bill is similar to putting a security camera in a corner convenience store to watch the money. Posting government checkbooks online helps the taxpayers keep an eye on their money. Some officials only abuse the public trust when they think nobody is watching,” said Duffy. “If you look at the website for the city of Dixon, and at the websites of many local governments throughout the state, the common thread is that many provide little-to-no fiscal information. We need to make this financial information more readily available.”

Duffy Debates Pension Reform on Senate Floor

Our state currently has $83 billion in unfunded pension liability, the largest pension debt in the United States. When the clock was approaching midnight in the final hours of the 2012 legislative session, the Senate passed a pension reform measure which even supporters admit didn’t go far enough because it failed to reform all five state pension systems.

House Bill 1447 makes reforms to benefits for those enrolled in the State Employee Retirement Fund and General Assembly Retirement System. The bill gives “tier 1” employees and retirees a choice of either keeping their state retiree health care and taking a lower, delayed cost of living adjustment (COLA), or keeping their full COLA but losing retiree health care. While the bill makes changes for state employees, it fails to tackle the contentious issue of reforming the Teachers Retirement System.

While Duffy ultimately voted in favor of the reform measure, he was critical of the bill which he considered incomplete saying, “After all the time and energy we put into pension reform and this is it? This is like trying to put out a forest fire with a spray bottle.”

In debate on the bill Duffy identified common sense solutions to Illinois’ pension problem, “We need to implement some fair and constitutionally accurate pension reforms. We need to cap pensions and end the double dipping. Why is it that public sector employee’s are allowed to receive multiple pensions from the state? Why can’t we take a look at these low hanging fruit situations and reform them immediately?”

Duffy also criticized President Cullerton in the Senate on the issue saying, “You have the leadership and the majority. You are in charge. You can pass any bill, any time you want, without one Republican vote. Here is your chance to do something substantial and you are failing, kicking the can down the road once again.”

The bill passed the Senate but Speaker Madigan adjourned the House without taking up the measure for a vote.

Medicaid Reform

While “Springfield 101” political maneuvering left some important issues unaddressed at the conclusion of the spring legislative session, the General Assembly was able to make some progress on Medicaid reform. A critical Medicaid reform package did receive bi-partisan support. These reforms include: Senate Bill 770, targeted the state’s use of “presumptive eligibility” in re-determining eligibility for Medicaid applicants who were automatically assumed to be eligible without proper verification.

Senate Bill 2840 reduces Medicaid liabilities by more than $1.6 billion, and is a major component of the Medicaid reform package that is anticipated to reduce overall liabilities by $2.7 billion in FY13. These reductions reflect reforms that Senate GOP lawmakers have advocated for many years. In 2011 Senator Duffy, along with others, introduced the Reality Check fiscal reform plan which included many of the spending reductions contained in SB 2840. These reforms targeted eligibility verification, utilization controls, optional services, and rate adjustments, among other changes.

Senate Bill 3397 essentially cuts up the Governor’s Medicaid “credit card” by changing the “Section 25” provision in state law which has allowed our Governors to purchase Medicaid services in one fiscal year, but push off the payments until the following years. Starting with the fiscal year that begins this July, the state can no longer roll over more than $700 million in Medicaid bills. The following year and subsequent years thereafter, the state’s credit limit will be held to $100 million. Our Illinois Constitution dictates we must have a balanced budget each year. Section 25 is nothing more than an accounting gimmick to circumvent the constitution.

While the General Assembly must stay vigilant, and ensure that these reforms are properly implemented, these Medicaid modifications are all steps in the right direction.

Very truly yours,
Dan Duffy
State Senator


Dan Duffy Reports on Legislative Session — 2 Comments

  1. As one who has closely observed the infusion of red-light cameras into our traffic control network, I want to go on record as categorically opposing these devices.

    They do not “enhance safety”, rather they increase the likelihood of accidents, diverting driver’s attention at the most critical time, entry into an intersection.

    Duffy’s legislation is bipartisan and deserving of support from both sides.

    Traffic studies across the nation have shown consistent reduction of accidents when yellow light time is increased, and an opposite effect when that time is reduced.

    Drivers benefit when there is ample time to decrease speed.

    Madigan is wrong on this issue, and as a fellow Democrat I call upon him to do the right thing and pass this legislation without delay.

  2. The reason Duffy isn’t getting things done may be a result of his confusion.

    His opening volley is about Madigan.

    Perhaps Duffy has been sitting in the wrong chamber.

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