Thursday, November 03, 2011

Illinois House panel attacks union pension abuses

Yet another case study of union pension abuses:

Illinois House panel attacks union pension abuses

Quinn changes Gaming Board, and Chicago's speeding camera measure advances

October 24, 2011|By Ray Long and Monique Garcia, Tribune reporters

SPRINGFIELD — — House lawmakers attacked union pension abuses Monday in response to Tribune/WGN-TV investigations, including one that exposed how two lobbyists got public teacher pensions for a single day of substitute teaching.

The investigation found Steven Preckwinkle, the Illinois Federation of Teachers' political director, and fellow lobbyist David Piccioli had used a now-closed loophole that allowed them to count their years in the teacher union toward a state teacher pension. The two lobbyists had no prior teaching experience before they substituted a day, a union spokesman said.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said he will introduce legislation to rescind their ability to be in the pension system, saying the 2007 law the two lobbyists used is an "obscene loophole." Franks also called upon Preckwinkle and Piccioli to resign from their lobbying jobs.

In other action, House Republican Leader Tom Cross, of Oswego, advanced broader legislation that aimed to address additional abuses. Cross, citing the "outrageous stories," slammed Chicago city employees who boosted their pensions in ways unavailable to the average citizen.

"We are attempting to make our state laws strong to prevent government employees from dipping into taxpayers' pockets to take more than they have earned," Cross said.

The House Personnel and Pensions Committee voted 9-0 for a legislative package that would eliminate a 1991 state law that allowed Chicago city employees to retire with a city pension based on bigger union paychecks.

That is aimed at the Chicago Municipal Employees Pension Fund, the Chicago Laborers' Pension Fund and the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. The proposal would mean future employees would base their city pensions on city salaries instead of union salaries.

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