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Preventing the same mistakes: ensuring local government pension contributions

biss-locpensLegislation sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston) seeks to shore up local pension funds by diverting state payments from an employer into the local pension fund when the employer fails to make the required pension contributions.

“Just as we must hold our state government accountable for pension contributions, so should we hold Illinois’ local governments accountable,” Sen. Biss said. “This legislation provides the enforcement mechanisms necessary to first encourage and then require the adequate funding of local pension funds.”

For decades, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) has had the ability to divert State payments to employers who failed to make their required pension payments. This is the main reason why IMRF is in excellent fiscal health, unlike so many other pension funds in Illinois. In recent years, police and fire pension funds and the Chicago municipal and laborer's pension funds have acquired this power as well. Under House Bill 3484, the other local public pension funds, including those of the Chicago Public Schools, Cook County, and the Chicago Transit Authority, would be granted this ability.

"The history of pensions in Illinois makes one thing crystal clear: it is absolutely imperative that employers make adequate payments into the pension systems,” said Biss. “Last Friday's Supreme Court ruling only serves to underscore the importance of this essential truth. Our legislation takes a major step to ensure that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past."

House Bill 3484 passed out of committee today and now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

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