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Cuts for thee, but not for me

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* The Dome currently has this as its top news story

Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, wants to take the chances for state pensions away from all future lawmakers.

Franks has filed legislation that would keep all members of the Illinois General Assembly taking office in 2013 and after out of the state pension system in an effort to save money.

But what about Franks’ own legislative pension?…

He said Tuesday that the law doesn’t allow the state to take away benefits that any state employees, including lawmakers, have already earned.

True, but he could vow to return the cash, minus what he’s already put into the system. Actually, he could just simply cash out rather than accept pension payments.

* These legislators, on the other hand, are putting their money where their mouths are

State Sen. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, has added his name to a list of legislators who will not be offering any legislative scholarships this year because the state’s broke. […]

State Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, who eliminated the scholarships from his district last year, said attempts have been made in the past to eliminate the program but were always shot down in the Senate. […]

Sen. Kirk W. Dillard, R-Westmont, said he has supported bills to eliminate the scholarships for the past two years as well and will not be awarding in the future.

posted by Rich Miller
Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:38 pm


  1. Isn’t this more like putting the taxpayers’ money where their mouth is? It isn’t like the legislators are personally funding the scholarships.

    Comment by DavE Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:44 pm

  2. Hard to believe these let uni papershuffler pick who gets in. Very wise…not

    Comment by circularfiringsquad Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:44 pm

  3. DavE, yes, but neither is the state. Legislative scholarships are in fact tuition waivers that the public universities have to accept. The schools pay for these students, not the state.

    Comment by 47th Ward Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:47 pm

  4. I’d like to see a law that states as of a certain date (like the day after the law passes) no one can accept more than one state pension. The pols can pick which one they want, but they only get one.

    Comment by Cheryl44 Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:50 pm

  5. Good luck getting Jack Franks to return any pension money to the State. That is one press release he will never issue!!!!

    Comment by MJMspksman Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:54 pm

  6. Rep. Franks is a lawmaker, he can lead the charge to change the law.

    Comment by Jim Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:55 pm

  7. ==The schools pay for these students, not the state.==

    These public universities are in fact state agencies that rely on state funding to operate. Legislative “scholarships” are taxpayer-funded.

    Comment by Anonymous Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:56 pm

  8. Rep. Norine Hammond 94th District will not be offering any General Assembly Scholarship. She cannot justify adding more burden to our state Universities who are already owed tens of millions of dollars from the state.

    Comment by Robin94 Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:57 pm

  9. Wow, so those students of those districts won’t have a chance at that state resource? Glad they decided that for all the graduating seniors in their district. How about setting up an independent scholarship board to decide the merit like most everyone else does now and what most have done for 15-20 years. Sorry, I know the Chicago people don’t know what that is, but for those of us in “The Burbs” that’s how these have been given out.
    I received one 22 years ago from a State Rep I never worked for nor did my family contributed to. I was a poor kid who did well enough to get in and was interested in government. I would like to think the people of the state have received a fair payback on my education.

    Comment by frustrated GOP Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 2:58 pm

  10. Frustrated, I don’t think anyone disputes the goodness of giving deserving kids a chance to attend college. But fairness is NOT the issue any longer. The issue now is whether our state universities can AFFORD to give hundreds of students four-year tuition-free rides. Remember, these are not true “scholarships” in the sense that they provide money to pay the student’s way through school. They are simply tuition waivers which require the school to eat the cost.

    Comment by Secret Square Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:08 pm

  11. Anon, the state only provides a portion of the funding. All the other students and their families pick up part of that tab with their tuition.

    cheryl44, Most don’t collect two pensions, they roll all the service from one to the other. the new pension reforms kinda address this going forward in that you won’t be allowed to collect a gov’t pension and a gov’t paycheck. You’d forgo the pension if you go back on the public payroll, then you’d pick up the pension when you quit again.

    anybody recall when Rep. Franks was all about adding state services for the seniors of Mchenry County as opposed to cutting the budget?

    Comment by piling on Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:13 pm

  12. Didn’t Franks say last week that he was going to introduce legislation to take away existing pensions? This week he says he can’t do that. What will he say next week?

    Comment by blogman Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:15 pm

  13. Rep. Franks just put his foot in it big time. This is a first-rate piece of legislative hypocrisy. I hope it gets noticed far and wide.

    Franks says, “I can’t think of anywhere else a person can work part-time and receive a pension, let alone a pension as lucrative as those received by Illinois lawmakers.”

    But his pension? He’s taking it to the bank, baby!

    Showmanship & Hypocrisy: 100%
    Self-awareness & Credibility: Zero

    Look in the mirror, Rep. Franks, take your own advice, and give up that pension ASAP.

    Comment by Statewide Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:17 pm

  14. Legislators should have to follow the same rules as all other state employees - no full ride on health care after just 8 years and no pension after just 4.

    Comment by central illinois Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:17 pm

  15. @Rich -

    I don’t think there would anything unconstitutional about legislation that created a system for current lawmakers to contractually and irrevocably surrender their pensions. We could call it the Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Act.

    Pivoting off Franks’ statement, since Tom Cross and Radogno seem to think otherwise, I recommend legislation eliminating the pensions for current lawmakers as a test case. Can’t WAIT to see Republicans line up to vote for that one.

    Speaking of hypocrisy, I suggest that any legislation forcing our state’s disabled and low-income families into Medicaid managed care also apply to the members and staff of the Illinois General Assembly.

    Comment by Where There's a Will Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:18 pm

  16. frustrated GOP-
    That’s not a blanket Chicago/Suburban difference; the rules are set by each individual and your patron was one of the good ones (so stop acting like all urban dwellers are inherently unethical.) 10 years ago I worked for a Suburban Rep and watched the process, which was fairly objective - but mostly out of fear not to *look* corrupt. We took applications from anyone and tried to determine on merit and perhaps need. But the challenge is really getting word of the scholarship out to the public, and that inherently makes the program biased - people who spend time in or near the Rep’s office have a better chance of hearing about the scholarship.

    and regardless, once their kid has been granted a scholarship, the parents become supporters and volunteers for life, so in the end it’s just another way to buy votes.

    Comment by listening in Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:25 pm

  17. Far enough point on the scholarships the state should pay those, that said, I would love to see the total list of waivers they offer up on their own. Maybe it’s not as bad as when I was there, but there are some hidden perks that maybe we can’t afford right now.

    Comment by frustrated GOP Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:28 pm

  18. The legislature might have trouble simple nullifying all pensions earned by GA members. But it wouldn’t have any trouble passing a law right now that would dictate that no legislator could earn any more pension credits going forward. They can keep what the earned but they can earn no more.

    Let’s get THAT drafted.

    Comment by John Bambenek Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:32 pm

  19. people: We are forgetting one thing> this is Jack Franks we are talking about, why would we waste our time talking about another one of his foolish PR stunts??????? The good news is, the new map will have him in a district just outside of Green Bay Wisconsin!!

    Comment by MJMspksman Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:35 pm

  20. wow, could be a story on the Onion News Network.

    Comment by amalia Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:35 pm

  21. ” once their kid has been granted a scholarship, the parents become supporters and volunteers for life, so in the end it’s just another way to buy votes.”

    Yeah, not quite.
    I am on a different scholarship board and getting word to students has more to do with the quality, or lack there of, in the high school guidance office then anything. I never thought it was hard to give away money to high school students until I tried to.
    To your point- I don’t remember a lot of parents coming to walk because their kid got a scholarship when I was in “The world” yes I did the work, but for other people. and sometimes on the other side.

    Comment by frustrated GOP Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:36 pm

  22. It’s always interesting when the subject of doing away with (1) free public transportation for seniors and/or (2) legislative scholarships are brought up.

    These have to be two of the more (allegedly) unpopular state give-aways in recent memory, but you’d think that we were discussing closing down hospitals and schools whenever it is suggested that these programs be done away with.

    As a related exercise, and this is a sincere query, not rhetorical, can anyone out here think of any “entitlement”/”program”/”benefit” or “perk” (whatever you want to call it) that has quietly gone away, “sunset”, been repealed, whatever, in Illinois?

    I know AllKids and all sorts of things are around - is there any real precedent for turning back the clock on any of this stuff?

    I’m being serious, I just dont know if we are shouting into the wind out here, or this stuff actually ever gets turned back… anyone know?

    Comment by Peter Snarker Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:37 pm

  23. in the late 50s or early 60s, rep. corneal davis was upset to learn blacks could play sports at the U of I, but not get athletic scholarships. he went around to his colleagues and got them to let him use theirs to fill, i think it was, four four-year scholarships. that year one of the big chgo high schools won state w an all-black backfield. w approval of a new coach, corneal delivered that backfield to the U of I and they won everything in sight.

    in recent years, some legislative scholarships have been used to help med students who were willing to come back to underserved areas.

    Comment by Langhorne Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:41 pm

  24. And yet Franks sponsors HB 146 and invites a legal challenge on the constitutional provision that protects pensions.

    Comment by Jake From Elwood Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:41 pm

  25. I would not begrudge Franks, or any other legislator, a pension. It would be good, however, to 1) Show what the current legislative pension plan looks like & how it differs from that of a typical state employee, and 2) Pass legislation to put legislators and the Governor on a plan similar to that for other state employees for the years going forward.

    Comment by JustaJoe Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:43 pm

  26. Geez, Franks didn’t think of what the SECOND question might be after he made his grand announcement.

    Let’s keep the line building on GA members who pass on tuition waivers (not scholarships, as 47 points out; words mean something).

    The whole concept is revolting; GA members, acting like mini-Don Ciccis, with a wave of the hand granting or withholding magnificent benevolence (not out of their own pockets) based on their elected position.

    The practice is the definition of corruption, no matter how many feel-good stories you can produce. Long past time to move on from such feudal practices.

    Comment by wordslinger Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 3:44 pm

  27. At 20 years…Pension

    Legislator 85% of pay

    State Worker 32.01% of pay

    Comment by Where can we save Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:05 pm

  28. @ John Bambenek

    Who in the IL legislature might introduce your proposal?

    Comment by Bill White Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:07 pm

  29. Jack Franks is a blowhard. If the state of Illinois had a nickel for every phony press release and sham bill that he filed to generate publicity, we would have enough money to balance the Illinois budget and put a serious dent in the federal deficit!!!

    Comment by 4 percent Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:28 pm

  30. I went to ISU on Webber Borcher’s scholarship.

    Comment by PPHS Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:40 pm

  31. Consider a law prohibiting individuals from working for the State (in any capacity) if they are receiving a pension from any one of the State retirement systems.

    Comment by SgtSchultz Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:43 pm

  32. Uh, after today’s court ruling, these people should be considered overpaid since they obviously don’t do good work.

    Comment by VanillaMan Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 4:58 pm

  33. Naomi Jakobsson goes one step farther than the others. In lieu of awarding Legislative scholarships from the public treasury, she awards a scholarship to one graduate from each of the high schools in her district from her own pocket, and also adds two scholarships from her own pocket to students competing in the annual M L King scholarship competition.

    They say the legislature is divided into show horses and work horses. Guess which category I would put Jack Francks into.

    Comment by jake Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 5:33 pm

  34. Who cares about the hypocricy? It’s a great idea. Eliminating pensions for elected officials would improve government overnight. Better than term limits.

    Comment by park Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 6:46 pm

  35. Reality check: The GA can give up its pensions (or at least those of future members), but the state would then be required to put in their share (6%) to Social Security. At that point, the state could easily be in the position of fully funding legislators’ social security while continuing to put promissory notes into the pensions of all the state’s employees. I doubt that would play well with the employees or the voters.

    Comment by Pot calling kettle Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 6:50 pm

  36. Park, you prove the point. Franks doesn’t actually want to do this, he wants to get credit and attention for proposing it. They hypocricy points to the truth regarding why this won’t happen because the sponsor himself isn’t really committed.

    Comment by Michelle Flaherty Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 6:51 pm

  37. Why not bring up something that you can get passed. People who receive pensions(any)in the state of Illinois DO NOT get taxed by the state. The state is missing out on a treasure trove of revenue. If need be, the state could place a ceiling as to when the state will asses a tax but how this issue has not been brought ot the forefront is beyond me.

    Comment by Bo Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 7:20 pm

  38. Mr Franks says “the law doesn’t allow the state to take away benefits that any state employees, including lawmakers, have already earned”… Didn’t he just proposed legislation to significantly change (take away) the pension benefits current state employees were promised AND ALREADY EARNED?!

    Comment by anonyMiss Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 7:51 pm

  39. Bo, the tax swap for education folks had a tax on retirement income in an early draft of their plan a few years ago. Several lawmakers signed on to get the discussion going. The blow back from the AARP crowd was overwhelming. Lawmakers dropped off just because of that topic. Couldn’t even be discussed.. It was never again included in any of the proposals and even the folks putting it together acknowledged the political firestorm it created.
    Hey, I’m with you. But the old folks still vote by the oldsmobile load and their numbers are only increasing.

    Comment by Michelle Flaherty Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 8:04 pm

  40. Perhaps Mr Franks should propose legislation asking why these “part time” lawmakers (his words) earn a base salary of $65,353.

    Comment by anonyMiss Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 8:10 pm

  41. regarding taxing pensions. Please, at what point do we really get the fact that we can’t afford that many people not on the tax roles. Sooner or later we are going to have to tax something on pensions.
    regarding legislator pensions, it’s hard enough to get quality people to run, taking pension benefits away isn’t going to help. I think the last 6-8 years have proven that. Where is the leadership to buck their leaders and clean up the mess.

    Comment by frustrated GOP Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:20 pm

  42. ===Sooner or later we are going to have to tax something on pensions.===

    Nobody has that kind of death wish.

    Comment by Rich Miller Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 10:23 pm

  43. frustrated GOP — When was the last time that we didn’t have several people who wanted to run for these “part time” jobs? Heck.. I bet we could find good quality people who would just do it for free.

    Comment by What! Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:00 pm

  44. ==I bet we could find good quality people who would just do it for free.== The recently retired Sen. Dahl was one of those people.

    Comment by Milootis Wednesday, Jan 26, 11 @ 11:17 pm

  45. And look at all the things Sen. Dahl got done. There’s Pluto Day. And … hmmm … don’t forget Pluto Day.

    Comment by Michelle Flaherty Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 7:02 am

  46. Look… I really agree that the legislature should have a pension. However, they shouldn’t be going after the state pensions now… because it wasn’t properly funded by the state. If they want to change how it effects ALL of those who will collect a future state pension… then that we be more fair. A more just way to raise more revenue would be to have a higher tax rate for those making more than $500,000 a year.

    Comment by What! Thursday, Jan 27, 11 @ 9:18 am

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