Bill would ban lobbying groups from public pensions
Spurred by a Daily Herald investigation about taxpayer-funded pensions for lobbying associations, legislation was introduced Wednesday that would bar those organizations from participating in public pension programs in the future.
A report about Illinois Association of Park Districts Executive Director Peter Murphy's growing salary and simultaneous skyrocketing pension obligations sparked the bill, legislators said.
"These pension systems are being looted, and it's a total ripping off of the taxpayer," said state Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat who sponsored the bill. "Because of the Daily Herald's dogging this issue is why I proposed the bill."
Murphy -- a 30-year employee of the association -- averaged 9 percent raises between 2005 and 2014. His salary in 2014 cost taxpayers close to $360,000 and came with a $103,000 taxpayer-assisted pension contribution on his behalf to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, according to IMRF data. Murphy would be eligible for a $227,500 pension if he retired today, based on an analysis of his salaries.
IAPD officials said they have no opposition to the bill.
In the wake of the report on Murphy, leaders from a number of suburban park districts said they planned to vote on severing ties with the IAPD as well.
The bill, which has bipartisan co-sponsors from across the suburbs, also targets nongovernment agencies that are allowed to participate in other state pension programs, including the State University Retirement System and the Teachers' Retirement System. But it does not eliminate all nongovernment agencies. Insurance pools, such as the Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency and the Park District Risk Management Agency, were not named in the bill.
"The state's pension system is in dire straits, and ensuring political insiders aren't taking advantage of taxpayer-funded pensions is a common-sense reform that everyone should be able to support," said state Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat who co-sponsored Moylan's bill.
The bill, if passed, would prevent future employees of some 11 taxpayer-funded lobbying groups from participating in public pension programs in the future. It would not affect current employees.
Moylan suggested amendments to the bill might also require these types of agencies to comply with the state's open records law, something that is not currently mandated.
"If people are being taxed to pay for these types of salaries, the agencies should be subject to the scrutiny of the public," Moylan said.