Letters to the editor: Pension law won’t save money, Rauner caused chaos

Pension law won’t save money

The recent front page article applauding the enactment of HB 418 preventing police officers from “double dipping” pensions was quite misleading. First, in the article Rep. Grant Wehrli stated that the bill “begins to address Illinois’ mounting pension problems.” That is totally false. The two pension funds affected by this legislation, the Illinois local police pension funds and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) receive zero state tax dollars. Both pension funds are funded by the member’s contributions, interest made from the investment of those funds, and local tax dollars collected through an annual tax levy. This bill does nothing to address the serious shortfall in state-run pension funds caused by the state legislature’s failure to make the prudent contributions for the past two decades. They are completely separate pension systems.

Second, the bill will restrict a retired Illinois police officer from taking an “active duty position” (code for the job of police chief) and earning a second pension as a police chief. That essentially will eliminate all retiring Illinois police officers from becoming police chiefs in Illinois. Municipalities will now have to seek out their police chiefs from a pool of personnel that does not include any retired Illinois police officers, the very people considered by most to be the most qualified to be a police chief. This law will result in retiring Illinois police officers continuing to collect their pensions from their local police pension funds while the municipalities hire chiefs from outside Illinois. Those new chiefs will then begin collecting a salary and working toward their pension. With a pension and a salary being paid, albeit to two different people instead of one, no tax dollars of any kind are being saved. The second pension will still be earned, just not by the retiree. One thing will be accomplished: There will be no future police chiefs in this state with real police experience in Illinois.

Finally, Rep. Wehrli’s co-sponsorship of this bill was simultaneously ironic and hypocritical. Rep. Grant Wehrli was a Naperville City Council member which approved the hiring of Robert Marshall as Naperville Police Chief in May, 2012. Wehrli has now indicated that very instance was the impetus behind this legislation. So he is co-sponsored a bill to keep others from doing what he previously did himself?

Donald M. Bisch, Vice-President Naperville Police Pension Fund

Remember chaos caused by Rauner

As a concerned citizen, I am appalled at the actions Governor Rauner has taken to thrust the state toward the brink of fiscal chaos. Thankfully, our area has representatives like Linda Chapa LaVia, who put the needs of people above partisan rhetoric. With the vote Linda took to override the governor’s veto of a fair and bipartisan budget, senior programs were able to avoid being shut down. Because of the budget, our state’s Community Care Program will be fully funded. Additionally, Meals on Wheels will see its funding prioritized and increased for the coming year.

We should not forget that two years ago, the governor unilaterally changed the determination of need scoring for the Community Care Program, which tossed thousands of seniors aside and without the help they need. That is not the sort of reform Illinois needs to turn around. Thank you Linda Chapa LaVia for stepping up to do what’s right.

John Glassford, Aurora

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