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Wheaton state politicians weigh in on Illinois pension reform bill

The Illinois General Assembly voted on a historic pension reform bill Dec. 3, with the measure passing 62 to 53 in the House and 30 to 24 in the Senate. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the legislation into law Dec. 5.

Wheaton's senators and representatives weighed in on the bill, which was written to save $160 billion during the next 30 years.

How they voted

• Sen. Michael Connelly: Yes

• Sen. Kirk Dillard: No

• Rep. Sandy Pihos: No

• Rep. Jeanne Ives: No

On the bill and its constitutionality

"It's an imperfect bill, there's no question about it, but Springfield is an imperfect place. There are those who have said that it was unconstitutional, and I don't know if it is constitutional, but the best way to know that is to bring it to the Illinois Supreme Court."

– Sen. Michael Connelly, R-Naperville, in an interview

"This bill was not the solution. State funded pensions remain in jeopardy. We cannot continue to spend 20 percent of [the General Revenue Fund] on public pensions ... We do need pension reform immediately, but not just any pension reform – and certainly not this brand of reform."

– Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, in a news release

On the process of passing the bill

“Considering the limited time most legislators had to analyze this legislation, it was impossible to thoroughly evaluate and understand the measure. This legislation will not only affect hundreds of thousands of retired teachers and state employees, but its impact will span generations. I understand that pension reform is absolutely necessary if Illinois is going to dig itself out of its fiscal hole, but rushing this process is not in the best interest of the retirees we’re ultimately trying to protect.”

– Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, in a news release

"For me, reading the legislation was not a challenge, but having the time to vet it was. While the pension crisis remains the most important issue of the 98th General Assembly, I voted against the ... pension reform proposal contained in the Conference Committee Report to Senate Bill 1 because I believe the public and the Legislature should be given adequate time to digest the bill, instead of being rushed to a vote without fair consideration.”

– Rep. Sandy Pihos, R-Glen Ellyn, in a news release

Moving forward

“Neither the House Speaker, Senate President, nor the Governor have demonstrated the budgetary discipline needed to reduce the state’s multi-billion dollar bill backlog, or limit spending in order to allow the tax increase to expire as they promised. Knowing this, without assurance that the savings will be used prudently, I hesitate to free-up billions of additional dollars that they can use to further expand entitlement programs or subsidize more pet projects at the expense of our retired teachers, state workers and law enforcement officers.”

– Dillard, in a news release

"I think this is just step one ... We need to force the General Assembly to live within their means, and I think that's what the gubernatorial election is going to be about. We have a billion and a half in savings, and that should be used in rolling back income taxes and paying our bills and getting Illinois' bond rating up and making Illinois a more attractive place to come and do business."

– Connelly, in an interview

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