BGA-Backed Plan to Limit Six-Figure Severance Deals Approved by Senate

A proposal to protect taxpayers by ending golden parachutes for public executives now heads to the House. Being asked to leave shouldn't be like hitting a lottery jackpot, the BGA says.

Photo by Madeleine Doubek / BGA

The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday 52-0 in approving a plan to end six-figure severance deals for public managers and executives. The legislation, SB3604, was prompted by research and analysis by the Better Government Association's Policy & Civic Engagement team and sponsored by state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park.

The Policy & Civic Engagement team collected repeated examples of so-called golden parachutes granted in Illinois in recent years at all levels of government. A review of statutes across the nation found legislation to restrict public severance pay has been adopted in some other states, but Illinois could lead the Midwest if SB 3604 becomes law.

Sen. Tom Cullerton and the BGA's Madeleine Doubek speak in support of ending six-figure severance packages.

The BGA's Policy & Civic Engagement Director Madeleine Doubek delivered the following statement in support of the Government Severance Pay Act at a Springfield press conference with Cullerton.

Remarks in support of SB 3604, the Government Severance Pay Act

May 2, 2018

The Better Government Association’s Policy Unit enthusiastically supports Senate Bill 3604, the Government Severance Pay Act.

The act is a common-sense approach to ending the exorbitant, six-figure severance packages, known as golden parachutes, that too often are handed out to public executives and managers who leave their jobs under questionable circumstances.

The BGA’s Policy team examined public severance deals and found, since 2009, at least 11 examples of six-figure severance packages that cost taxpayers of more than $5.2 million. These golden parachutes were granted to executives at all levels of government -- universities, community colleges, transit agencies, public housing agencies, schools and municipalities.

Adopting the Government Severance Pay Act will restrict severance deals, restore some fiscal discipline to public executive contracts and protect taxpayers’ wallets.

SB 3604 will stop employees fired for misconduct from collecting a severance altogether and it will limit severance packages for other public executives to a maximum of 20 weeks’ compensation. The legislation gives governments in Illinois the ability to remain competitive while eliminating abuses that fuel taxpayer distrust.

Elected government officials face countless political and other pressures when asking executives to leave. By adopting the Government Severance Pay Act, state lawmakers can set a clean, clear plan that will eliminate those thorny decisions for elected officials, just as is done in Florida and several other states.

For too long, taxpayers have had to foot the bill for six-figure severance deals to make public executives go away. Being asked to leave, often under questionable circumstances, shouldn't be like hitting a lottery jackpot. The Government Severance Pay Act will bring a fair approach to ending golden parachutes.

The BGA commends Sen. Cullerton’s leadership in introducing SB 3604 and we urge its passage.