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|IL House votes to close pension loophole for teachers union lobbyists|
|News Releases - Business, Economy & Finance|
|Written by Rich Morthland|
|Monday, 14 November 2011 14:28|
Springfield, IL...The Illinois House of Representatives voted Wednesday to close the pension loophole that allowed two teachers union lobbyists to earn huge state pensions after serving for a single day as substitute teachers.
State Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) co-sponsored House Bill 3865, which would prohibit employees of teachers unions from participating in the state's Teachers' Retirement System. It requires the lobbyists already in the system to forfeit all pension credit earned. HB 3865 passed the House unanimously and will go to the Senate for consideration.
"Today we close the book on another shameful chapter of Illinois history," Morthland said. "These guys were lobbyists masquerading as teachers. They took advantage of a pension loophole that allowed them to receive a teacher's pension after subbing for just one day in the classroom. That's a slap in the face to hard working teachers across Illinois. As a member of this union and as the husband of a member of this union, I'm appalled that it has gotten this far."
A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found that two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees towards state teacher pensions after subbing for a single day in 2007.
According to the Tribune report, Steven Preckwinkle, the political director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and fellow IFT lobbyist David Piccioli were the only people who took advantage of a small pension window opened by state lawmakers just a few months earlier. The law allowed union officials to get into the Teachers' Retirement System and count their previous years as union employees after quickly obtaining teaching certificates and working in a classroom. Preckwinkle and Piccioli could collect nearly $3 million in pension payouts, based on their union salaries and years of union credit.
"Illinois' pension systems face serious financial problems, with more than $85 billion in unfunded liability," Morthland said. "I'm glad to join my House colleagues in voting to stop these egregious abuses of pension loopholes."
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