Springfield, IL…Today, State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) took the lead by passing responsible pension reform legislation in the House with a vote of 88-20. House Bill 1320 would prevent the occurrence of double dipping from happening in the downstate law enforcement pension system.
House Bill 1320 as passed in the House, amends the Downstate Police Article of the Illinois Pension Code. The legislation prospectively eliminates a provision that has allowed some retired police officers to receive an annuity from a Downstate Police Fund, while, at the same time, receiving a full salary serving as a chief of police. Further provides that, prospectively, a retired police officer cannot return to active service as a full-time police officer of any municipality without first suspending their pension.
“The states pension liability is the biggest burden, which we as taxpayers have had to carry on our shoulders. This is a long-term fix towards solvency that can prevent the act of double-dipping pensions for future hires,” said Wehrli.
HB 1320 is considered prospective, which means it only applies to the new members who join the downstate law enforcement pension system after the law takes effect. HB 1320 also allows for exemption for any town or municipality that has a population of 6,000 or less. The reason for this is exemption is to ensure that smaller populated areas would have the opportunity to hire an experienced police chief, even if retired, since the actual compensation is minimal in most cases.
Currently, retired police officers are able to receive an annuity while serving as a full-time police officer in another municipality, or as a part-time police officer in the same (or different) municipality where they were an active duty officer.
“The purpose of earning and collecting a pension is for financial compensation and well-being at the completion of one’s service. If you’ve chosen to retire, it should not mean that you can come back to earn more towards a taxpayer funded pension,” said Wehrli. “Double-dipping is a huge problem within our pension systems. If we don’t look at measures to tie up these loose ends then we will continue to put ourselves at further risk by growing the states pension liability.”
After passing with a favorable vote of 88-20 in the House, House Bill 1320 will now await consideration in the Senate.