Wednesday, July 10, 2013

House Pension Cmte Chair, and Pension Conference Cmte Member, Rep Elaine Nekritz on Gov's Veto of Lawmakers' Salaries

Rep Elaine Nekritz (D), House Pension Cmte Chair

"The governor's actions today do nothing to move us toward a solution to our pension crisis and only serve as an unnecessary distraction. Each of the conference committee members is committed to a compromise in the near future that addresses this problem in a meaningful way. Our work will continue unimpeded. We would urge the governor to join us as we push to the finish line to really do what is right for Illinois."

Senate President Cullerton Calls Governor's Salary Veto "Unproductive"

Senate President John J. Cullerton issued the following statement regarding the Governor’s actions today:

Lawmakers have worked hard this session. That work included passing a balanced budget, paying off hundreds of millions of dollars in old bills, cutting their own pay and numerous, serious bipartisan efforts to enact comprehensive pension reform.

The governor’s actions today are as unproductive as yesterday’s arbitrary deadline. Responsible leaders know that unworkable demands will only delay progress.

Our efforts on pensions will continue until we’ve reached our goal. In the meantime, the work of the pensions conference committee shouldn't be undermined or deterred by today's or future political 

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Daley Statement on Veto of Salaries

From Bill Daley's campaign -- a quote assigned to him.

"It is obvious to everyone by now that this governor is long on press conferences and short on results.  This media sideshow doesn’t get things done, in fact it stands in the way."

Sen Jim Oberweis (R) Says Gov's Veto of Salaries a "Populist Stunt"

SPRINGFIELD Pat Quinn’s threat to withhold the paychecks of Illinois lawmakers until they pass public pension reform shows initiative by the Governor, but could backfire as no more than a populist stunt, according to State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove).

“Threatening to withhold legislative salaries until pension reform is passed is a high-risk decision by the Governor, one that can be easily overridden by the Legislature,” Oberweis said.  “But – to give credit where credit is due – at least he is doing something to focus attention on the issue.  If a legislative pay freeze is upheld, there could be nothing more effective to get the players engaged and get this pension mess resolved.  However, the risk is that legislators might enact a plan that would do little to solve the problem in order to again start receiving their pay, instead of passing comprehensive reform like Senate Bill 2026, which would permanently fix the problem.”

The 25th District Senator said he supports Senate Bill 2026, a pension reform plan proposed by the Illinois Policy Institute, because it would pass constitutional muster, would immediately cut Illinois’ $100 billion unfunded pension liability by nearly half, and would protect the benefits earned to date by current government workers.  Future benefits would accrue in new defined-contribution plans.

A joint Senate-House Conference Committee continued to seek compromise on pension reforms, meeting for a third time July 9 in Springfield, after meetings July 3 and June 27 in Chicago.

Oberweis said the Conference Committee is trying to accomplish a task that has eluded the Governor and his legislative allies for years – finding a pension reform solution that will attract enough votes to pass the Legislature and pass constitutional muster.

“Unfortunately, the Governor has been absent from the committee meetings, preferring instead to criticize from the sidelines rather than lead negotiations for a solution,” Oberweis said. “Leaders must lead and take the risks that leadership requires.  Our Governor has, so far, failed to take a true leadership role, fearing that he might offend the unions.”


Governor Quinn Suspends Pay to Illinois Representatives and Senators, and Says He'll Not Take His Salary, Until Pension Reform is Passed

- Governor Pat Quinn today issued a line-item veto of House Bill 214 to suspend pay for Illinois state legislators. Since taking office, the governor has been pushing for comprehensive pension reform to resolve the state's worst-in-the-nation pension crisis. Today's action follows years of legislative inertia on pension reform, while the state’s unfunded pension debt grows by millions of dollars a day.
“In this budget, there should be no paychecks for legislators until they get the job done on pension reform,” Governor Quinn said. “Pension reform is the most critical job for all of us in public office. I cannot in good conscience approve legislation that provides paychecks to legislators who are not doing their job for the taxpayers."
In addition, Governor Quinn will not accept his salary until the General Assembly sends him a comprehensive pension reform solution.
Illinois’ pension crisis was created over 70 years of fiscal mismanagement by previous governors and legislatures. Since taking office, Governor Quinn has worked to restore fiscal stability to the state, making the full pension payment each year and reducing the state’s discretionary spending to historic lows. Governor Quinn’s efforts to enact pension reform include:
·      In May 2009, Governor Quinn established the Pension Modernization Task Force, which laid the foundation for pension reform efforts.
·      In 2010, despite intense opposition, he fought for and signed into law sweeping pension reform for new hires that are saving billions of dollars.
·      In January 2012, the governor convened a legislative pension reform working group to develop a solution.
·      Three months later, he proposed a comprehensive pension reform plan that erased the unfunded liability and worked to pass this legislation during the legislative session.
·      To avoid credit downgrades, Governor Quinn set several deadlines over the past two years for legislators to enact pension reform. Each time the deadline was blown, taxpayers were on the hook for millions of more dollars in pension debt and numerous downgrades to the state’s credit rating. Recently, Illinois’ credit rating was downgraded twice in one week to its lowest point in history, which days ago cost taxpayers an additional $130 million over the life of the bonds, in order to maintain critical infrastructure.
·      The governor has called special sessions to address pension reform.
·      He has released several studies on the dire impact of pension inaction on education, with Illinois currently on track to spend more on pensions than education by 2016.
·      The governor has met at length, numerous times with legislative leaders and lawmakers, and repeatedly asked them to vote for comprehensive pension reform.
·      Governor Quinn launched an online campaign to raise awareness about the pension squeeze and urgent need for action.
·      The governor has rejected piecemeal and insufficient pension bills that did not eliminate the pension debt.
·      During his 2013 State of the State and Budget addresses, the governor again laid out standards for pension reform and throughout the session he pushed for Senate Bill 1, which would have eliminated the unfunded liability.
·      In June 2013, the governor proposed a legislative conference committee as a vehicle to break gridlock between the two chambers. He asked the legislative conference committee to act on a compromise that erases the unfunded liability and provides 100 percent funding for the systems by July 9.
Members of the Illinois General Assembly make $67,836 annually, along with additional stipends for leadership positions, both of which were vetoed out today.
"This is an emergency, the taxpayers of Illinois are waiting and there is no excuse for further legislative delay,” Governor Quinn added. “The taxpayers cannot afford an endless cycle of delays, excuses and more delays.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Treasurer Dan Rutherford (R): Statement on Gov Quinn's Amendatory Veto of the Concealed Carry bill

“I disagree with Governor Quinn’s veto of this legislation. As your governor, I would have signed this legislation into law. Illinois’ prohibition on the concealed carry of firearms has been a hotly debated issue for a long time. As a long time defender of Second Amendment rights, I have actively advocated for the implementation of a concealed carry law in Illinois. Rather than advancing my own personal agenda on the issue via veto as Governor Quinn did today, I would have chosen to prioritize enabling Illinois to join the rest of the nation in allowing eligible residents to carry concealed weapons. Statistics from across our nation demonstrate that this measure would help our state improve public safety in Illinois.”

Gov Quinn Issues Amendatory Veto of HB-183, the Concealed Carry Bill


– Governor Pat Quinn today took amendatory veto action on House Bill 183 – legislation that will allow and regulate the carrying of concealed handguns in public places. The governor’s amendatory veto makes critical changes to several provisions that pose significant safety risks, and strengthens the legislation to better protect the people of Illinois. Today's action is part of the governor's agenda to improve public safety in Illinois. 
“My foremost duty as Governor is to keep the people of Illinois safe,” Governor Quinn said. “This is a flawed bill with serious safety problems that must be addressed. There are too many provisions in this bill that are inspired by the National Rifle Association, not the common good. Public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away, and I urge members to uphold the common sense changes I propose today."
On December 11, 2012, three days before the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, (Case Nos. 12-1269 and 12-1788), struck down Illinois’ current ban on the concealed carry of guns in public, an unprecedented ruling. 
“Let me be clear, I do not agree with this ruling,” Governor Quinn added. “However, I am duty-bound to address the mandates of the Court of Appeals, unless the United States Supreme Court rules otherwise.”
The governor’s changes to House Bill 183 include important revisions to establish a law that better protects the safety of Illinois citizens: 
·   Alcohol: HB 183 allows people to carry guns into establishments serving alcohol, including most family restaurants and other places where large amounts of alcohol are consumed. Mixing alcohol with guns is irresponsible and dangerous. Illinois must keep guns out of any establishment where alcohol is consumed.
·   Home-Rule: HB183 strips the authority of home-rule governments to enact future laws on assault weapons to protect their local communities. This NRA-inspired provision is not in the interest of public safety or local communities. In fact, these provisions have nothing to do with the right to carry a concealed gun and have no place in this bill. Local governments should always have the right to strengthen their own ordinances to protect the public safety of their communities.

·   Signage: Under the bill, loaded guns would be allowed in stores, restaurants, churches, children's entertainment venues, movie theaters and other private properties, unless the owner visibly displays a sign prohibiting guns. As a matter of property rights, the legal presumption should always be that a person is not allowed to carry a concealed, loaded gun onto private property unless given express permission.

·   Employer’s Rights: As currently drafted, this bill infringes on an employer’s ability to enact policies that ensure a safe and secure work environment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shootings are the most frequent cause of workplace fatalities. To best ensure a safe work environment, employers should have the right to enact policies that prohibit employees from carrying guns in the workplace and in the course of performing employment-related duties. 

·   Number of Guns and Ammunition: The bill provides no cap on the number of guns, or on the size or number of ammunition clips that may be carried. Instead, it allows individuals to legally carry multiple guns with unlimited rounds of ammunition, which is a public safety hazard. In the interest of common sense and the common good, it should be clarified so that a license will permit an individual to carry one concealed gun and one ammunition clip that can hold no more than 10 rounds of ammunition. 

·   Mental Health Reporting: While HB 183 appropriately seeks to improve mental health reporting, as Governor Quinn called for during his State of the State address in February, the positive impact of these measures is limited by the lack of clarity in the notification process. Clarification is necessary to ensure these enhancements to mental health reporting prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.

·   Clarification of “Concealed”: As written, the definition for "concealed firearm" includes the phrase “mostly concealed,” which would allow a licensee to walk around in public with a portion of his or her gun exposed. This is an irresponsible step towards open carry in Illinois. This insufficient provision must be clarified to ensure that when guns are carried, they are completely concealed from public view.  

·   Open Meetings Act: Under the current bill, the meetings and records of the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board are entirely exempt from the Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Acts, providing zero transparency of the meetings, budget, personnel and other aspects of this government board. Similar to the Prisoner Review Board and the Emergency Medical Services Disciplinary Review Board, the meetings and records of this board – unless otherwise exempt – should be announced, open, and available to the public.  

·   Law Enforcement: As written, the bill does not require an individual to immediately disclose to a public safety officer that he or she is in possession of a concealed firearm. In order to protect the safety of our public safety officers in the line of duty, an individual’s response to questions from law enforcement about whether they are carrying a gun should always be immediate.

Governor Quinn today also urged the people of Illinois to contact their local legislators and ask them to put public safety first and accept the governor's important changes to this legislation. Additionally, Governor Quinn launched a website where people can access information about the concealed carry legislation and his amendatory veto. To find out more, please visit

The state has been given a court-ordered deadline of July 9 to legalize carry weapons.