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Durkin, Bellock, Radogno All Support Pension Overhaul

Sen. Kirk Dillard was the only General Assembly member who represents Western Springs that voted against the bill approved by both houses Tuesday.

Jim Durkin (File photo)
Jim Durkin (File photo)
Three of four General Assembly members who represent Western Springs residents came down on the same side of Tuesday's big pension reform votes in the Senate and House.

Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Reps. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) all voted to support the pension bill that passed both chambers and now awaits Gov. Pat Quinn's signature.

Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) was the lone Western Springs representative to vote against the bill.

READ: Illinois Passes Historic Pension Reform

The legislation, officials say, will save $160 billion over the next 30 years through several measures including raising the retirement age for many public employees, skipping some annual cost-of-living increases, and providing a 401(k)-style option for public employees going forward, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The pension overhaul bill passed Radogno's Senate by a 30-24 vote. In Durkin's House, the vote was 62-53.

"I am pleased we were successful in passing pension reform through the General 
Assembly today in order to save retirements and protect Illinois taxpayers," Durkin said in a statement Tuesday. "This bi-partisan proposal will go a long ways towards putting our state back on solid financial footing, but it does not mean our work is done. We must continue to demonstrate fiscal discipline over the next several years to control spending, and pay down our bills if we ever hope to allow the ‘temporary’ tax to expire and to bring jobs back to Illinois."

Radogno echoed Durkin in her own statement.

"This is a good bill that will achieve real savings for the taxpayers, better protect the pensions of lower-paid, longer-serving public employees and stabilize state finances," she said. "This legislation is fair for both taxpayers and the workers who count on the pension systems."

Bellock said she supported the bill because she thinks will "restore the fiscal order in Illinois" and ensure "a solid pension system for all of our hardworking state employees and teachers" that pay into it. 

The representative said she's been working hard the last four years to halt the state's credit-rating drop, and has been told that the pension issue and Medicare are the root causes. 

"This was our opportunity and I don’t know if we’ll have another one in the next three or four years," Bellock said.

Dillard, a 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate, issued a statement Tuesday that said his "no" vote was based on "lingering questions" about the bill's constitutionality and the "lack of public vetting" it went through.

He said lawmakers didn't see the bill until the day Monday.

"Considering the limited time most legislators had to analyze this legislation, it was impossible to thoroughly evaluate and understand the measure," Dillard said. "This legislation will not only affect hundreds of thousands of retired teachers and state employees, but its impact will span generations. I understand that pension reform is absolutely necessary if Illinois is going to dig itself out of its fiscal hole, but rushing this process is not in the best interest of the retirees we’re ultimately trying to protect."

He also had concerns about what the state would do with the $160 billion the bill is supposed to save in future years. 

"Neither the House speaker, Senate president, nor the governor have demonstrated the budgetary discipline needed to reduce the state’s multi-billion dollar bill backlog, or limit spending in order to allow the tax increase to expire as they promised," Dillard said. "Knowing this, without assurance that the savings will be used prudently, I hesitate to free-up billions of additional dollars that they can use to further expand entitlement programs or subsidize more pet projects at the expense of our retired teachers, state workers and law enforcement officers."
Tim F December 04, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Now if they'd only support term limits. No, they're not going to want to leave their great part time job with huge perks and benefits.

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