Jack Franks Pension Reform Campaign Spreads to Springfield County

Bruce Rushton on May 2nd, 2016:

Local electIllinois-Times-Logoed officials due for pensions would have to keep logs showing that they have worked enough hours to qualify for pension benefits under a bill now pending in the state legislature.

That could mean a lot of paperwork for local pols. Elected officials aren’t required to take pensions, but all but one member of the Springfield City Council has signed up for pension benefits and more than half the members of the Sangamon County board are on board.

It’s a matter of keeping politicians honest, says Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, who is sponsoring the measure that has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

“This isn’t a political issue, it’s a legal issue,” Franks said. “You have a legal obligation, if you’re collecting the benefits, to prove that you deserve them. If you’re not entitled, you don’t get it. It’s very simple.”

In most cases, local politicians must work 1,000 hours a year, which works out to 20 hours per week, to receive pensions. Franks says that’s nearly impossible for part-time elected officials. The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund also says it’s a tough threshold for part-timers, stating in a online guidance manual that the 1,000-hour threshold can’t be met for members of most governing bodies “barring highly unusual circumstances.”

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