October 13, 2011
I am sorry that I could not be with you as a calendar commitment has me out of the area. I applaud and embrace your march and your efforts to do what is right not only Logan County, but for the people of Illinois. Lincoln Logan Correctional Center cannot close, and the threat of this action only impedes the economic challenges which Logan County and Lincoln are willing to overcome. It also delays meaningful spending reforms in our state government which need to be addressed immediately.
We do have a budget crisis. The Governor and his Democratic friends promised that their 67% tax increase would pay off our bills and solve our problems, and then would be repealed in the near term. Yet, excessive state spending continues to provoke hardship on businesses doing work with the state by increasing delays in state payments. The real problem must be addressed by the systemic structural spending patterns in our larger state agencies. This, however, cannot be dealt with by closing correctional institutions that would put our correctional employees in greater danger in already overcrowded facilities and put our citizens at greater risk because of some new early release program.
As I have long said, our correctional facilities keep our communities safe, and we must continue to support them. That doesn’t mean there cannot be reform within Corrections, but a wholesale and ill-conceived closing of facilities is not the appropriate action. I continue to applaud your efforts and will do everything I can to protect the interests of Logan County as well as the State of Illinois as we work to avert this disaster of a decision and address the real fundamental spending problems in this state.
Thanks again for your efforts.
WILLIAM E. BRADY
State Senator – 44th District
PENSION ABUSES DRAW CRITICISM
My colleague Senator Matt Murphy and I have introduced legislation to resolve concerns that union leaders have been collecting millions of dollars from publicly-funded state pensions based on their time working for the union, not the public.
Using little-known pension system loopholes, high-ranking union officials, who previously worked for governmental units, have been allowed to collect their public sector pensions based on their final union salary. They have also been given pension credit for the years they worked at the union.
To curb these egregious abuses, we have introduced Senate Bill 2499 to repeal the union service credit for any new hires in all 10 public retirement systems, including the five Chicago systems, Teachers Retirement System, State University Retirement System, suburban and downstate police and fire funds, and the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. The legislation also ends this practice for current union employees going forward.
For example, the average public school retiree draws an annual pension of $46,452; however, in one case, a former teacher-turned-union-executive is drawing a pension of $242,000 a year, the equivalent of six retired teachers' pay. In fact, $47 million has already been paid out to high-ranking union officials, who are being paid with public pension funds.
While Chicago union pension perks have drawn attention recently, similar abuses have occurred at state systems. The second-highest pension benefit being paid by Teachers Retirement System (TRS), which covers all suburban and downstate public school teachers, tops $242,000 a year and is given to Reginald Weaver. Weaver retired in September 2008 as national president of the National Education Association teachers’ union.
According to TRS, Weaver’s last state salary was from his employment as a public school teacher in Harvey, earning $60,000 during the 1995-1996 school year. However, Weaver’s pension benefit is based not just on his public school work but also on his 12 years of work for his union employers, the NEA and the Illinois Education Association, and his final salary at the NEA.
Kudos to Bloomington-Normal for being named one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People!
Sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance and ING, the honor recognizes communities across the country that focus on reducing high school dropout rates and providing service and support to their young people.
Several local organizations were cited as examples of Bloomington-Normal’s commitment to helping youth, including the 25 Under 25 Youth Leadership Program, the 100 Black Men of Central Illinois, the Lawrence Irvin Neighborhood Center, and the McLean County Community Compact.
I’m proud of the community where I have lived my entire life, as well as raised my own family. Congratulations, Bloomington-Normal!
AROUND THE DISTRICT
On October 10, I was pleased to participate in the Inaugural Advocate BroMenn and Eureka Legislative Forum in Normal.
Other lawmakers at the event were Senator Shane Cultra of Onarga, Representative Dan Brady of Bloomington, Representative Bill Mitchell of Forsyth, and Representative Jason Barickman of Champaign.
The Forum focused on questions and concerns about healthcare, including Medicaid funding and the tax-exempt status of hospitals. More than 100 people attended.