Ill. GOP House Leader Tom Cross: Reforming Chicago and Cook Co. Pension Boards‏

From Illinois GOP House Leader Tom Cross…

In a speech at the City Club of Chicago this afternoon, Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross announced that he filed a bill that will help give more accountability to taxpayers by reconstituting the City of Chicago and Cook County pension boards. The bill, which will be sponsored by Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) in the Senate, will also require pension boards statewide to refer any suspected fraud to the local authorities.

“Recent media reports have unveiled abuses in the Chicago Pension systems that were not reported to the proper authorities for punishment or investigation. We believe these matters should have and still should be reported to law enforcement. We mandate that in our bill,” said Cross. “We also believe the pension boards in the City of Chicago and Cook County need a fresh start—that’s why we are seeking reconstitution.”

In recent weeks, the Chicago Tribune and WGN have reported about numerous pension abuses including when the Chicago Municipal Pension Fund allowed four members of the fund to keep their pensions after they falsified documents regarding pension eligibility.

Under House Bill 3827, any board, fund member or employee who fails to report apparent fraud could be held liable for repaying any losses to the fund that occurred as a result of the breach, and/or be removed from his or her position

The legislation also standardizes the numerous boards constituting the City of Chicago Pension Funds. All current board members’ terms will expire and going forward the board will consist of four Mayoral appointees who are not members of the fund, two elected active members and one elected annuitant member.

The board of the Cook County Pension Fund will also be reconstituted. The new board will be made up of nine members, including five appointees of the County President along with two elected active members and two annuitant members.

Cross plans to move on this legislation during the upcoming veto session, as well as HB 3813, which was filed last month. HB 3813 will repeal a portion of a law passed in 1991 that allowed city employees to retire with a city pension that was based on their much higher union salary. HB 3813 will only allow union officials to accept a city pension based on their city salary when they left service.

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