“Can you name any place in the world where someone can get two pensions for the same job?” said State Rep. Tom Cross, a Republican from Oswego who has been pushing for statewide pension reform. “Even by our standards here in Illinois, it’s beyond belief. It’s insane.”
Concerned over news reports uncovered by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV in the last 24 hours of union leaders “exploitation” of a loophole created by a questionable interpretation of state statute in the Chicago pension funds, Illinois State Rep. Tom Cross has filed a bill to protect taxpayers from double dipping.
As the media continues to uncover gross abuses in the Chicago’s pension funds, Cross filed legislation today to ensure that Chicago union officials cannot collect multiple pensions, one through the City of Chicago and one through other labor organizations for pension credit earned for the same period of service.
Rep. Cross filed House Bill 3832 to strengthen current law, because according to the news reports, some top union officials circumvented the law to allow double dipping in the Chicago Municipal Pension Fund and the Chicago Laborers’ Pension Fund.
He said the reports are slightly different than what were in the news last month when the Chicago Tribune and WGN reported that city of Chicago union bosses were double dipping a city pension with a union pension by falsifying their City pension applications—stating they were only receiving one pension, but were collecting both.
Current State law provides that the deliberate falsification of documents in an attempt to defraud a public pension system is a Class 3 felony, and a conviction for this type of fraud will disqualify the individual from receiving municipal pensions.
Even though Illinois law was violated, the union officials were allowed to keep their inflated City of Chicago pension as long as they disclaimed the union pension they had also been receiving. It was a decision by the Executive Director of the Chicago Municipal Fund to not go after the violators of the current statute.
In the last 30 days, Rep. Cross has filed legislation that will require pension boards statewide to refer any suspected fraud to the local authorities. House Bill 3827 will help give more accountability to taxpayers by reconstituting the City of Chicago and Cook County pension boards.
Cross also plans to push House Bill 3813, which was also filed last month, during the upcoming veto session. HB 3813 will repeal a portion of a law passed in 1991 that allowed city employees to retire with a city pension that was based on their much higher union salary. HB 3813 will only allow union officials to accept a city pension based on their city salary when they left service.