Rep. Olsen Co-Sponsors Pivotal Pension Reform Bill

In a significant showing of compromise today, State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and 24 other House Republicans in filing a comprehensive pension reform measure that would provide significant savings for taxpayers and a one-time-only $215 million pension parity payment to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

The legislation, filed in Springfield today as HB 4027, would not change benefits for current retirees. However, for current and future participants, the bill:
  • Includes Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. 
  • Provides a one-time normal cost payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund of $215.2 million for FY 17. 
  • Closes new member participation in GARS. 
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan. 
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.
“There are elements of this comprehensive package that I do not like,” said Olsen. “But in the spirit of compromise and in an effort to show our Democratic colleagues that we are serious about achieving Constitutionally-sound pension reform, my Republican colleagues and I are willing to support this compromise package.”

Olsen rejected his own legislative pension upon taking office last year, and has been a vocal advocate for meaningful pension reform. “Pension reform is a critical element of putting Illinois’ finances back on track, and I have been disappointed that the topic has taken a back seat to other issues lately,” Olsen said. “It is my pleasure to stand with Leader Durkin and many of my House Republican colleagues to push this important legislation.”

Through the provisions of HB 4027, it is estimated the State of Illinois will realize short-term savings of $2.25 billion dollars from the general funds, which represents a substantial step towards closing the deficit gap.

The current General Assembly includes 51 Republicans and 67 Democrats, and Durkin said today’s bill filing should send a clear message that his caucus is willing to do its part to achieve pension reform. “With our 26 votes the House Republicans have provided their pro-rata share of support for a structured roll call vote on this important issue,” said Durkin. “This means we will provide our fair share of votes. The Speaker needs to provide his 34 votes to move this legislation to the Senate.”

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