Illinois House votes to stop labor leader pension abuses

Pension reform designed to attack double-dipping and other abuses of retirement systems won overwhelming House approval today.

Inspired by disclosures in Tribune/WGN-TV investigations, a key provision aims to end the practice of labor officials collecting city and union pensions simultaneously. In addition, the legislation seeks to tamp down the ability of labor leaders to base their public pensions on union salaries.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, called the abuses uncovered in the investigations “egregious” before the House sent the bill to the Senate on a 111-3 vote.

“I know this has been somewhat of a shock to us even by Illinois standards,” Cross said.

The measure also would put in place stricter fraud provisions to require workers employed at public pension systems to report potential wrongdoing to top officials or prosecutors.

First focused on a handful of Chicago-area pension systems, the latest version has been expanded to include pension systems covering Chicago and downstate teachers, laborers and public universities. The proposal likely will be tweaked to address some concerns raised by police and firefighters. A similar bill sponsored by Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park, also moved to the Senate today. She said she is still negotiating on some of the finer points.