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updated: 12/6/2013 5:39 AM

Now that it's law, pension cuts fuel election campaigns

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  • Doug Truax

      Doug Truax

  • Jim Oberweis

      Jim Oberweis

 
 

Political fallout from the General Assembly's vote Tuesday to cut public pensions is going beyond the Springfield Capitol to campaigns for the nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican, voted for the pension law, prompting criticism from one of his opponents for U.S. Senate in the March 18 primary, Doug Truax of Downers Grove.

Truax, making his first run for office, called the pension plan "tepid" and said it's not in the best interest of taxpayers.

"Every other financial 'fix' passed in Springfield in the past decade has harmed taxpayers," Truax said. "Mr. Oberweis needs to explain why he so easily voted with the status quo that never solves problems but rather transfers them to the next generation."

Oberweis agrees with Truax to a point, calling the plan he voted for a "first step" and expressing concerns about some of the complicated details. In a speech on the state Senate floor, Oberweis said he was still making up his mind at the last minute.

In the end, he voted for the pension cuts, and the Senate approved it with the minimum 30 votes needed.

"This bill is not true reform, but it seems to be the best we can get at this time," Oberweis said in a statement. "State officials have made pension benefit promises they knew or should have known they couldn't possibly keep. We must take action now and resolve these issues for our state's long-term fiscal health."

Also running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate are Armen Alvarez of Chicago and William Lee of Rockton.

Calculator

Union leaders said they're preparing their lawsuit over the pension cuts, which Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Thursday.

In the meantime, state workers and teachers who want to calculate what the changes would mean for their retirement can download a spreadsheet at www.weareoneillinois.org/documents/COLA-cut-spreadsheet.xlsx.

Congratulations, Bulldogs

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Winfield Republican, spoke on the House floor Wednesday to congratulate the Batavia High School football team for its Class 6A state championship.

Schneider opponent

For months, it's been clear that a rematch for Congress between Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield and Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth, who held the seat a term ago, would be one of the most-watched races in the country.

Now, Arlene Hickory, a Lake Bluff Democrat, has filed to challenge Schneider in the primary election.

Hickory ran unsuccessfully for Lake County Board in 2012. According to the Daily Herald candidate questionnaire she filled out at the time, Hickory is a retired nurse who hadn't previously held elected office.

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