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Tom Cullerton: Taxpayer dollars should not be used as hush money

tcullerton 040218SPRINGFIELD – A new bill from State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) would make taxpayer dollars off limits for the purpose of purchasing silence regarding allegations and investigations of sexual harassment.

Cullerton’s measure, House Bill 4243, prohibits any public funds – including money that is appropriated for office allowances – from being paid to any person in exchange for his or her silence or inaction related to an allegation or investigation of sexual harassment allegedly committed by an elected official.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used as ‘hush money’ by disgraced elected officials who have betrayed the public’s trust,” Cullerton said. “Our goal is to let government officials know that we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.”

The measure is sponsored by State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) in the House, giving it bipartisan support.

House Bill 4243 is a response to recent news that members of Congress used public funds to pay settlements to former employees in response to allegations of sexual harassment.

“The time to take action is now. The people of Illinois have spoken. We will not and cannot support a culture that promotes inappropriate behavior,” Cullerton said.

House Bill 4243 passed the Senate’s Committee on Government Reform with bipartisan support and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Cullerton takes aim at excessive tax payouts to fired public officials (VIDEO)

tcullerton 050218SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Tom Cullerton is working with the Better Government Association to put a stop to bloated golden parachutes for failed state employees.

Senate Bill 3604 eliminates severance packages for employees that have been fired for misconduct and limits government-paid severance packages to an amount no greater than 20 weeks of compensation. Cullerton expects it to be heard by the full Senate this week.

“Giving out golden parachutes to poorly-behaved public officials isn’t just bad policy, it’s theft,” Cullerton said. “This is a commonsense reform that protects the public from bailing out bad actors. It is plain and simple – if you betray the trust of DuPage County taxpayers, you will not be rewarded with taxpayer money.”

The BGA and Cullerton have been working together to fight the misuse of taxpayer dollars.

"For too long, taxpayers have had to foot six-figure severance deals to make public executives go away,” said Madeleine Doubek, the BGA's Policy and Civic Engagement Director. “Being asked to leave, often under questionable circumstances, shouldn't be like hitting a lottery jackpot. With Sen. Cullerton's leadership, the Government Severance Pay Act will bring a fair, commonsense approach to ending golden parachutes."

Elected government officials are frequently advised to grant rich severances in an attempt to head off employment litigation, Cullerton said. By adopting the Government Severance Pay Act, state lawmakers can set a clean, clear path that will eliminate those decisions for elected officials. Similar policies are in place in other states, including Florida.

“Now is the time to get control of these huge buyouts and institute some best practices,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton has continued to call for tougher regulations to stop state universities and community colleges from buying out administrators that are under investigation or found guilty of mismanagement. This is another step in his quest to put an end to this wasteful practice.

“Our state cannot afford to waste a single penny, especially to help folks who treat taxpayers like their own personal piggy bank,” Cullerton said. 

If passed by the full Senate, the bill would go to the House for further approval.

Tom Cullerton expands measure to protect high-risk veterans (VIDEO)

tcullerton 050118SPRINGFIELD – The State of Illinois currently does not have a procedure in place to alert police and emergency professionals of missing veterans, but State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to change that.

Cullerton advanced House Bill 4212, which expands the use of the Endangered Missing Person Advisory system—also known as Silver Alert – to veterans who are believed to have physical or mental conditions related to their service.

Bipartisan group calls for state spending cap

tc 042618 2SPRINGFIELD – Over the past 10 years, state government spending has grown 25 percent faster than taxpayer income, with many claiming the government is spending faster than Illinoisans can afford.

To combat this issue, State Senators Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) are pushing a bipartisan proposal that would ensure Illinois' spending grows at a predictable rate that cannot be easily changed.

Sen. Tom Cullerton

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23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; State Government; Transportation; Veterans Affairs (Chairperson); Sub. on Utility Rate Regulations (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.

Associated Representatives:
Deb Conroy
Diane Pappas