State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, has filed legislation that will ban newly elected part-time county board members from receiving pensions through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). The bill also requires current municipal officials to keep detailed records in order to ensure that they are meeting the requirements for receiving pension benefits.
Franks says, “The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund is the best run public pension system in the state, and should be exclusively for full-time municipal employees. We need to prevent future part-time county board officials from collecting these taxpayer-funded benefits and ensure that the taxpayer dollars in this fund are not being siphoned off by elected officials who game the system and receive benefits.”
The measure is the result of collaboration between Franks and the IMRF. Following Franks’ call in March for an independent investigation into whether McHenry County Board members were working enough hours to be eligible for taxpayer-funded pensions, the IMRF started an internal inquiry to determine if these members were in violation of IMRF’s policy by not documenting or working the required 1,000 hours per year that is necessary to be eligible for the benefits the funds provides its participants. This lead to Franks’ decision to file legislation that would prevent newly elected part time municipal officials, including county board members, from collecting pensions that are funded by local taxpayers.
“Local taxpayer dollars should be spent on critical programs and infrastructure, not on pensions for part time board members who may not even be eligible to receive them,” Franks said. “With the difficult financial challenges facing our local governments, it is time for local officials to tighten their belts rather than continuing to raise property taxes that burden hardworking families and force them to considering moving out of Illinois.”
In the wake of recent reports, State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) has introduced a measure calling on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to comprehensively examine lead levels in Illinois’ drinking water supplies. McSweeney says, “We are learning through media reports that some water systems could have lead levels exceeding federal standards.This is our drinking water we are talking about here. The IEPA needs to investigate this closely and report back to us on how widespread this problem really is. This problem needs to be addressed now.”
According to recent reports, there are public water systems that have had tests showing lead levels exceeding federal standards.
“We cannot have another Flint, Michigan,” McSweeney said. “We have to get to the bottom of this and take care of it before we have a truly disastrous situation on our hands.”
House Joint Resolution 153 directs the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study of lead in Illinois drinking water. The study would begin immediately and the IEPA will have to issue a comprehensive report no later than December 31, 2016.
McSweeney says, “Part of the problem in Flint was that the public was not getting accurate information. We can and should prevent something like that from happening here. The only way we can solve this problem is to get accurate information. If we have learned anything from Flint, it should be that we need to start working on this sooner rather than later.”
House Joint Resolution 153 has been introduced and awaits assignment to a legislative committee.