State legislature addresses redistricting, pensions
From press release
Third redistricting hearing scheduled for Sept. 22
Gerrymandering reform will again be the topic at the third public hearing of the Illinois Senate Committee on Redistricting.
The hearing will begin at noon, Tuesday, Sept. 22, in Bradley University’s Hartmann Theatre Center, 1453 St. James St., Peoria, Ill.
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—which is the drawing of legislative and congressional districts to provide an automatic advantage, either to a political party or to incumbent officeholders.
The hearing will also allow for witnesses and guest speakers to present proposals for redistricting reform in Illinois.
Pension task force meets
The Senate Pension System Modernization Task Force met Sept. 16. As Illinois’ burgeoning pension debt continues to grow, state leaders have met with business groups and unions to discuss possible solutions to reduce the state’s overwhelming pension obligations.
Task force members heard from state retirees, as well teachers’ unions, the Civic Federation and Gov. Pat Quinn’s staff. 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.
The Task Force has plans to convene three subcommittees Oct. 2, which include a Funding Subcommittee, Benefits Subcommittee and a Collective Bargaining Subcommittee. These subcommittees are charged with assembling a final report to submit to the General Assembly; however, any recommendations on the state’s pension benefits must meet with 75 percent approval from the Benefits Subcommittee members to be included in the final report.
Though Illinois’ woefully underfunded retirement systems have been criticized for years, state pensions were more 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 (“double-dipping”); the collection of automatic, annual 3 percent pension increases; the taxing of pensions; and reducing benefits for new hires.
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