Senator Dave Syverson Says Pension Reform Was Needed

Senator says he has concerns about bill, but it protects retirees and taxpayers

SPRINGFIELDState Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) says pension legislation passed in the Senate Tuesday was a crucial first step in reforming the state’s critically underfunded pension systems.

Syverson supported Senate Bill 1, which passed the Senate 30-24 and the House 62-53.  The legislation is expected to save taxpayers $160 billion over the next 30 years.

“This bill isn’t perfect, and contains things that I don’t like, but unfortunately, doing nothing was not an option. Even after making a $7 billion pension payment this year, the system is falling millions of dollars a day deeper in the red. We have to make the system solvent for those who were promised a pension, whether they are retirees or current employees,” said Syverson. “This bill will improve the state’s credit rating, begin to tackle the unfunded liability, and protect taxpayers.”

Syverson, who has long been an advocate for reforming the pension systems, says the legislation provides cost savings while protecting state employees and retirees.

“This bill protects those who have worked the longest and receive modest pensions,” Syverson said. “Everyone is asked to sacrifice, and that is unfortunate, but this bill does it in a just and compassionate way. It’s unfortunate that those who created the problem in the 90’s can’t be held accountable. It’s not a teachers fault, or a state employees fault, or even the fault of legislators like me who voted against every budget that didn’t fully fund the pension systems.”

After it is signed by the Governor, the new law faces uncertainty and a likely lawsuit over questions about the bill’s constitutionality. Syverson says that delay could take a year or more.

Syverson says he understands some people wanted more from the bill, and some opposed it altogether, but he says the situation demands leadership.

“We were sent here to make tough decisions. This was an incredibly difficult one, but we can’t hide from the issues facing us,” he said. “This was not an easy vote, but it was the right vote.” 

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