Focus on gerrymandering and pensions this week in Ill. Senate
Send a link to a friend
[September 19, 2009]
SPRINGFIELD -- The focus has
been on gerrymandering and pensions this week, said state Sen. Larry
Bomke, R-Springfield. A Senate task force on pensions met Wednesday
to discuss the state's massive pension debt and offer tentative
solutions to reduce Illinois' pension obligations. Bomke said that
Illinois has consistently held the dubious distinction of claiming
the worst pension funding problem in the nation. Also, another
public hearing on redistricting has been scheduled for next week.
Gerrymandering reform will again be the topic at the third public
hearing of the Illinois Senate Committee on Redistricting. The
hearing in Peoria will begin at noon Tuesday in Bradley University's
Hartmann Theatre Center, 1453 St. James St.
Among those scheduled to testify at the hearing will be Brad
McMillan of Bradley University's Institute for Principled Leadership
in Public Service. McMillan is a member of the Illinois Reform
Commission, which has proposed a major reform of Illinois'
redistricting laws to reduce political gerrymandering -- the drawing
of legislative and congressional districts to provide an automatic
advantage either to a political party or to incumbent officeholders.
Bomke said that the hearing will allow witnesses and guest
speakers to present proposals for redistricting reform in Illinois.
When the Senate Pension System Modernization Task Force met this
week, task force members heard from state retirees, as well teachers
unions, the Civic Federation and Gov. Pat Quinn's staff. As
Illinois' burgeoning pension debt continues to grow, state leaders
have met with business groups and unions to discuss possible
A representative from the Quinn administration presented the
governor's key recommendations, which focus on funding and revenue
enhancements. Quinn is once again pushing an income tax hike as a
way to increase state revenues. The governor is also encouraging the
task force to consider taxes on retiree benefits and raising
contributions for all employees, as well as creating a new system
that would offer fewer benefits to new hires.
[to top of second column]
The task force has plans to convene three subcommittees on Oct. 2,
with panels on funding, benefits and collective bargaining. These
subcommittees are charged with assembling a final report to submit
to the General Assembly; however, to be included in the final
report, any recommendations on the state's pension benefits must
meet with approval from 75 percent of the members of the benefits
Though Illinois' woefully underfunded retirement systems have
been criticized for years, state pensions were recently the focus of
the Chicago Sun-Times investigation "Pension Bonanza." The Sun-Times
editorial board strongly advocated for pension reforms, including
ending the practice of working at one government job while
collecting a pension at another government job, or "double-dipping";
the collection of automatic annual 3 percent pension increases; the
taxing of pensions; and reducing benefits for new hires.
[Text from file sent on behalf of
Larry Bomke by Illinois
Senate Republican staff]