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Koehler votes to consolidate police and firefighter pensions

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2019 01:07 PM

koehler 111419SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to save taxpayer money, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted in favor of a measure today that will consolidate police and firefighter pensions.

“The passage of this bipartisan legislation was years in the making, and I’m thrilled my colleagues and I were able to work with the governor’s office to address a part of our serious pension problem,” Koehler said. “We’re saving taxpayers money and increasing retirement security for those who risk their lives on a daily basis.”

Under this legislation, the roughly 650 separate pension funds for downstate police officers and firefighters will be consolidated into two individual and separate funds. The fund consolidation will happen over a 30-month transition period beginning upon the legislation becoming law and is estimated to save Illinois taxpayers nearly $160 million annually while not affecting individual pension amounts.

“I understand the concerns people may have about giving the state control over a pension system,” Koehler said. “For that reason it’s especially important to keep in mind that local pension board control remains in place under this legislation.”

Under this legislation local pension fund boards and their authority to rule on benefits would remain firmly intact. Additionally, balances of other pensions would be untouched. The proceeds from one fund’s investment will not be used to make up for another fund’s shortfall.

This legislation now awaits the governor’s signature.

Link fights for police and firefighter pension consolidation

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2019 12:47 PM

police fire 032019SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan measure to consolidate most police and firefighter pension funds throughout the state passed the Illinois Senate Thursday with support from State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek).

“This proposal retains benefits while also making our system more productive and efficient,” Link said. “The pension crisis is one of the biggest issues we’ve been dealing with in this state for years, and the legislation we passed today marks a major step toward solving that problem.”

Senate Bill 1300 would consolidate all of the state’s nearly 650 police and firefighter pension funds outside of Chicago into two individual and separate funds over a 30-month transition period.

Consolidation of these pension funds is expected to provide them with a greater return on investments and save taxpayers an estimated $160 million each year, while not affecting individual pension amounts.

The legislation also allows local pension fund boards to retain authority to rule on benefits.

“We wanted to ensure that we preserved local authority over pension benefits while also providing enhanced investment opportunities and saving taxpayer dollars,” Link said. “This measure makes financial sense for pension recipients, the pension funds themselves and Illinois taxpayers.”

The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 42-12. It will now be sent to the governor’s desk for approval.

Crowe champions initiative keeping aviation repair industry in Illinois

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2019 12:28 PM

crowe jet 111419SPRINGFIELD – Legislation showing vast support to the aviation repair industry in Illinois is one step closer to becoming law under the firm leadership of State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon).

“I am delighted the majority of the Senate agreed this exemption is necessary in support of the economic contributions jet repair companies provide to the entire state of Illinois,” Crowe said. “But this fight is not over.”

The measure reinstates Illinois’ sales tax exemption for aircraft materials, which expired Dec. 31, 2014.

Morrison supports cap on out-of-pocket insulin costs

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2019 12:15 PM

insulin 053019SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) voted in support of a measure that will cap patients’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply.

“No one should have to choose between getting the medication they need to survive and putting food on their family’s table,” Senator Morrison said. “I applaud the efforts of my colleagues to pass this life-saving measure.” 

Senate Bill 667 caps co-payments for insulin at $100 per month for all patients, regardless of the supply they require. The cap, however, only applies to commercial insurance plans regulated by the state.

About 1.3 million adults in Illinois have diabetes – 12.5% of the state’s population – according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. On average, people with diabetes pay $475 a month on insulin, the Health Care Cost Institute reports. The high cost drives many patients to ration their insulin supply, which can result in blindness, kidney failure or death.

“Insulin is not an option for more than one million Illinois residents,” Morrison said. “It is time Illinois leads by example to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for choosing to maximize profits at the expense of consumers’ health.”  

If the bill becomes law, Illinois will become the second state in the country to cap out-of-pocket prices.

The legislation now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker, who previously pledged his support of the measure.

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