There is no controversy here, no questions to be asked.--
Story at State Journal-Register
By CHRIS WETTERICH
The State Journal-Register
The Illinois House voted Tuesday to boot two Illinois Federation of Teacher lobbyists from the Teachers’ Retirement System following disclosures that they qualified for state pensions after one-day careers as substitute teachers.
In a statement, Gov. Pat Quinn said he supports House Bill 3813, which already cleared the Senate and is headed to his desk.
“I am pleased with the General Assembly's action to improve our pension system in order to prevent the flagrant abuses that have recently come to light,” Quinn said. “Taxpayer money must be protected, which is why I supported lawmakers' move to address egregious abuses of the pension system. … I look forward to reviewing and taking action quickly when the bill reaches my desk."
The bill removes IFT lobbyists Steven Preckwinkle and David Piccioli from TRS and refunds any money they have contributed.
Preckwinkle and Piccioli each taught for a day in the Springfield School District in 2007, taking advantage of legislation that allowed a window for union officials to get into the teacher pension fund and count previous years as union employees if they obtained teaching certificates and conducted classroom work.
The new legislation retroactively eliminates that window.
The bill, sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, also bans double-dipping by current and future union leaders who leave their public jobs for full-time work with their unions and then take pensions from both.
Union leaders also could no longer base their public pensions on higher salaries earned while leading unions. Instead, any government pensions would be based on their salaries when they left their public jobs, adjusted for inflation.
“This is not something we can wait on,” Cross said. “The very people who were supposed to … make sure we had stable pension systems neglected their duties to take care of themselves.”
Current union leaders would continue to be able to add pension credits while in their union’s employ. Future union leaders would not.
The bill applies to downstate police and firefighter pension systems, the Teachers’ Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System and various Chicago and Cook County pension systems.
David Ormsby, a spokesman for Preckwinkle and Piccioli, called the bill “blatantly unconstitutional” because it changes pension benefits midstream. Preckwinkle and Piccioli are reviewing their legal options, he said.