State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) is hoping to provide taxpayers with some much-needed relief by addressing the practice of “double-dipping” of pension benefits by fire chiefs.
HB 3522, which was approved by the Illinois House on Thursday with unanimous, bipartisan support, specifically applies to retired fire chiefs who re-enter service as a fire chief for a different department while collecting a full pension from their first position.
“This legislation aims to take taxpayers off the hook from funding a second defined benefit pension for those who would take advantage of a pension loophole,” said Wehrli. “Fire chiefs are important public servants who deserve to earn fair benefits, but Illinoisans simply cannot afford to pay for two defined benefit pensions for the same individual. The defined contribution plan outlined in HB 3522 allows for a retirement benefit to be earned, but not on the shoulders of taxpayers.”
Through HB 3522, fire chiefs who begin their service after January 1 of 2020 may only continue to collect a pension benefit while being employed as a fire chief if they participate in a defined contribution plan rather than a defined benefit plan.
“Most pensions are based on a defined benefit, or guaranteed-return benefit plan,” Wehrli said. “By placing them in a defined contribution plan, their benefit is similar to a 401-k plan. Disability insurance benefits are unchanged in this proposal.”
With the 115-0 House vote on Thursday, HB 3522 now moves to the Senate for consideration.