Representative Dan Swanson’s April 12 Capitol News Update


  • Disappointed by USPS decision about Milan
  • Pension legislation moving through the House
  • Much work left undone at committee deadline
  • More news

Disappointed by USPS decision about Milan

The U.S. Postal Service has announced that it is going to shift distribution duties from its center in Milan and move them to a location in Des Moines, Iowa.

I was very disappointed about the lack of transparency and the lack of concern for residents of our area who are served by rural route delivery. I am concerned that this is going to result in slower service and more inconvenience for those who rely on the Postal Service for everything from conducting their business to receiving their medications.

The USPS said in a document last week that it is going to change the duties of the Milan facility from a Processing and Distribution Center over to a Local Processing Center. The USPS hosted an informational meeting in February at which dozens of local residents spoke out against the proposed change.

It seems that their voices went unheard because the USPS has now moved forward with a decision that appears to have already been made.

Pension legislation moving through the House

Several bills affecting Illinois state employee pensions have been moving in the House this spring, but at least one notable bill containing an important fix did not get a committee hearing.

A little over a decade ago a “Tier 2” pension system was created for newly-hired state employees. Pension benefits, once earned, cannot be reduced or impaired, so back in 2010 legislators decided to create a whole new tier for new workers in order to reduce some of the costs of the pension system. Now proposals are being floated to enhance the benefits for these Tier 2 employees to make them compare more favorably with those in the older Tier 1.

One catch is that providing these enhancements will require more revenue, either from taxes or from some other state source. In a year in which we are already expecting less revenue than in the recent past, this could present a significant challenge.

In addition to these questions, there is an issue emerging from the federal side that could have an impact on Illinois pensions. Because Illinois pension formulas are not increasing at the same rate as the federal Social Security wage base, it is possible that some large pension systems would have to start taking both Social Security and pension deductions out of the paychecks of their members.

A bill was filed to fix this “safe harbor” issue by tacking our maximum pensionable salary cap to the federal wage base, but it was not called up for a hearing in the Personnel and Pensions committee this spring. Some of the bills which include the benefit enhancements have a safe harbor fix, but they face questions about how the benefit enhancements they contain will be paid for.

As with any major issue, this one has a lot of moving parts and much is likely to change between now and the end of session in late May.

Much work left undone at committee deadline

Last Friday was the deadline to have House bills passed out of committees in order for them to be considered in this session. I was proud to have two of my bills pass committee (with a little help from some local students) before the deadline. Unfortunately, some other good bills were not so fortunate.

House Republicans introduced bills to provide relief for working families, improve public safety and address the shortage of health care workers, but these bills were blocked by the Democrat majority. They did advance a bill banning kangaroo ownership.

This is one of the more frustrating aspects of life in the General Assembly: good bills do not see the light of day just because of partisanship. Last week, 213 bills made it out of committee, but only 32 (or 15% of the total) were sponsored by Republicans. That was par for the course for the spring session thus far: 507 House bills moved out of committee, but only 73 had Republican sponsors, for a ratio of about 14%.

Some other Republican bills which did not get the chance to be heard were legislation cutting property taxes by over $80 billion and a bill to help juvenile victims of human trafficking.

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