Skillicorn calls for end to pensions for state lawmakers
State Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) argues the reasons for his proposed legislation that would prohibit newly elected House members from joining the state’s General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) are too many to count.
“Pensions are second biggest line in the budget in the state,” Skillicorn told the McHenry Times. “If we as legislators can’t lead on the issue, what chance do we have of solving the problem? Part-time legislators shouldn’t be getting a pension; that’s the first step in saving the state.”
With the introduction of House Bill 830, Skillicorn, who elected not to take a pension when he took office in 2017, said he is simply looking to address the elephant in the room.
“We have a pension crisis,” he said. “We can’t continue to ignore it and not have this state continue to suffer the way it has with all the debt load and outmigration.”
Skillicorn notes that the GARS pension system, which includes lawmakers in Springfield, is funded at a lower rate than any other system, just 15 percent.
“We work for the people and not ourselves,” he said. “Given that, how can you see something like this happening and as a lawmaker not seek to do something about it?”
Skillicorn said he is encouraged by the number of new House members electing not to accept a pension.
“So many new legislators are turning down the pensions that soon we’ll have a majority of members that are not receiving them,” he said. “More and more 'collar counties' are voting to do this, and if they can do it, so can we as state legislators.”
Unfunded pension liability in Illinois is pegged by the state to be around $130 billion, though some estimates have it as high as $200 billion.
"For the kind of change that truly needs to happen, we might have to outlast (House Speaker Mike) Madigan’s run in Springfield,” Skillicorn added. “With all his crazy policy, I know for the good of the 12.8 million people in Illinois, that day can’t come fast enough.”