State Senate candidates dispute where blame for pension inaction lies
Two Northwest suburban state Senate candidates agree pension reform is a top legislative priority, but disagree about which Springfield leader is most to blame for nothing being done.
Kelly Mazeski, the Barrington Democrat running for the 26th state Senate, blames Gov. Bruce Rauner, saying he has held pension reform solutions hostage to getting his Turnaround Agenda passed.
State Sen. Dan McConchie, the Hawthorn Woods Republican appointed to the seat after Dan Duffy retired in April, said the Democratic leadership is to blame for the inaction.
Now running for his own term, McConchie said in his few months as state senator he has discussed reform with Republicans and Democrats alike, and that rank and file legislators are working together despite inaction from House Speaker Michael Madigan.
"Madigan wanted to kick (pension reform) until after the November election," McConchie said.
Mazeski said as a Democrat living in traditionally Republican Barrington Hills, she frequently sets aside partisan differences to get things done on the village plan commission.
She said the pension plan backed by Senate President John Cullerton -- which would let state employees choose how they want their benefits reduced -- would save Illinois $1 billion per year.
McConchie, meanwhile, supports a plan that gives retirees the option to take a lump sum pension payment, one that amounts to 75 percent of what the state expects that person will earn in pension payouts over the rest of their lives. He said it would save the state about $480 million per year.
McConchie won the Republican primary against Barrington Hills Mayor Martin McLaughlin and Mettawa Mayor Casey Urlacher.
The candidates met Friday with the Daily Herald Editorial Board, where Mazeski asked McConchie to distance himself from The Lake County Gazette, a publication mailed to residents by Liberty Principles PAC that resembles a newspaper but is intended to support certain candidates and issues.
Liberty Principles PAC is run by conservative radio host and former GOP candidate for Governor Dan Proft.
McConchie recently spoke with a Gazette writer for a story about the 26th state Senate district race that didn't once mention Mazeski.
"I think you should be more careful about who you talk to," Mazeski said. "That's an editorial on the front page, that's not reporting."
McConchie said he offers his comments to anyone who reaches out to him.
The 26th state Senate district covers 253 square miles that include large portions of central and southwest Lake County, parts of northwestern Cook County, northeastern Kane County, and southeastern McHenry County. The district includes parts of Libertyville, Lake Zurich, Cary, Algonquin and the Barrington area.