It was quite a week in Springfield as lawmakers returned for three days of Veto Session. The week began with news reports that State Rep. Luis Arroyo had been arrested on the previous Friday by the FBI for allegedly attempting to bribe a State Senator to pass legislation that would legalize sweepstakes gambling machines.
News of the arrest was breaking right around the same time that I was participating in a Capitol press conference calling for the creation of a State Ethics Task Force. The chain of events that followed included House Republicans demanding Rep. Arroyo’s immediate resignation and taking steps to remove him using House Rule 91.
Three Republicans were named to a Special Investigating Committee that would have launched an investigation into Rep. Arroyo with the possibility of recommending his removal from the House. The first meeting of the Special Investigating Committee was scheduled to take place today, November 1.
However, Rep. Arroyo submitted his resignation effective at the close of business today, so the Special Investigating Committee meeting has now been canceled.
This week, I signed on to co-sponsor legislation that would ban sweepstakes machines and a bill that would enhance penalties for politicians that break State ethics laws.
I am also co-sponsoring HB 3947 that will ban sitting State legislators from serving as lobbyists for Illinois municipalities. Several current state legislators are registered as lobbyists for the city of Chicago.
Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) joined fellow Republican state lawmakers for a Capitol press conference on Monday to urge passage of House Joint Resolution 87, a measure that would create a State Ethics Task Force.
“This morning, while I was at a press conference calling for the creation of a State Ethics Task Force, news broke that Democrat State Rep. Luis Arroyo was arrested for attempted bribery of a State Senator.”
“Ethics reform is badly needed in this state,” Bryant said. “If HJR 87 passes, it will create a State Ethics Task Force that will work to assess current laws, study best practices, and propose legislation to ensure Illinois has among the most stringent ethics laws in the nation.”
Pension Asset Consolidation Legislation Filed – SB 616 Amendment 1
Earlier this week, Senate President John Cullerton introduced Amendment 1 to SB 616, legislation that would consolidate the assets of 649 pension funds that provide retirement income and pension benefits for retired police and firefighters in Illinois.
The legislation resulted from an October 10th report issued by Governor Pritzker’s pension consolidation feasibility task force. The task force recommended that the 649 police and firefighter pension funds consolidate their assets to achieve higher investment returns and lower administrative costs.
There is currently a combined $11 billion shortfall in the ‘downstate’ police and fire pension funds (meaning not Chicago or Cook County). The Governor’s report estimates investment returns of $800 million to $2.5 billion per year if the changes are implemented.
Illinois’ largest police advocacy group has expressed opposition to the plan. One concern is that the legislation will not properly protect current funds, and the worry that some funds would be “bailed out” because they were either managed irresponsibly or experienced reductions in value due to drastic stock market losses in 2008.
President Cullerton indicated on Tuesday that he desires to reach an agreement with the police group that opposes the plan. That is good news for first-responders in Southern Illinois that have reached out to me to express serious concerns about this plan.
I understand that many would be skeptical of any changes regarding pension assets. After all, the Democrats that control all levels of power in Springfield have authorized raiding pension funds to pay for new spending before.
Skipped pension payments have caused our Illinois’ pension systems to be around $200 billion short of where they should be funded. Our pension debt causes the state’s credit rating to be affected in a negative way which increases our costs of borrowing. This causes Illinois taxpayers to have to make up shortfalls in other areas.
Pension asset consolidation is an idea that has been talked about for at least 100 years in Illinois. The Governor has indicated that he wants something passed during the fall Veto Session. It is not clear at this time if he will get what he wants. I will keep you up to date on this issue in the coming days and weeks and encourage you to reach out to express your opinion to me.
Special Visitors in Springfield Serve as “Page for a Day”
I was delighted to host some special guests in Springfield this week to serve as my “Page for a Day.” On Monday, Congressman Mike Bost’s granddaughters were on hand to Lilly Rose and Sydney Fred.
I was honored to have them in Springfield – the girls got to sit in their grandpa’s old seat, which was a nice treat for everyone.
I was also quite proud to host my other page this week, my granddaughter Cori. Cori and I had a lovely time in Springfield and she did a great job serving as my page. Love you, Cori!
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you wish to provide your input on pending legislative matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Murphysboro at 618.684.1100 or Mt. Vernon at 618.242.8115.