May 30, 2012 05:03 PM
BGA to House Speaker Madigan: Allow a Vote on Sheahan Pension Amendment
Working to cut pension benefits for state government employees, House Democrats seek to spare one politically influential person from any pension reductions.
The Better Government Association is strongly urging House Speaker Michael J. Madigan to call for a full House vote on an amendment seeking to end one of the state’s most blatant and disturbing examples of public pension abuse.
Senate Amendment 4 of HB 5078 seeks to repeal a 2007 law that authorized one person in the state, former Oak Brook Police Chief Tom Sheahan, to greatly enhance his pension at the expense of taxpayers by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The law, which was passed by the General Assembly and signed by then-Governor Rod Blagojevich, forces Oak Brook taxpayers to fund Sheahan’s pension by over $750,000.
"Illinois lawmakers are talking about overhauling the current public pension system by cutting benefits for rank-and- file workers. But the House decides not to call a vote on an amendment that would end outsized benefits for one politically influential person. That’s wrong and Speaker Madigan can make it right by calling for a full vote," said Andy Shaw, CEO and president of the BGA.
The amendment, originally presented by State Senator Kirk Dillard, has passed the Senate but is parked in a House committee, where its opponents hope it will die.
Technically, House leadership says it has concerns about the constitutionality of the amendment. However, the BGA and Village of Oak Brook dispute that argument--especially since this amendment is patterned after November legislation that Governor Pat Quinn signed to repeal the pensions of a pair of Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyists, Steve Preckwinkle and David Piccioli.
That pair substitute-taught for a day and, under the 2007 law, were permitted entry into the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System. The law allowed them to count their years in the union toward a state pension, permitting Preckwinkle to reap a pension as high as $108,000 upon retirement.
The BGA and Chicago Sun-Times were the first to uncover Sheahan’s pension windfall abuse and its impact on taxpayers and Oak Brook.
"Speaker Madigan is a powerful person and he should act now on behalf of all taxpayers by giving this bill a fair hearing and an up or down vote in the open," Shaw added.