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Thu May 3, 2012
Public retirees, students, city officials get capitol attention
Three bills stand out among those receiving attention Wednesday in the Illinois Legislature. One has to do with health-insurance costs for state retirees. Another is in response to the comptroller scandal in Dixon. The third seeks to end the scandal-plagued legislative scholarship program.
Retired state and public university employees would have to kick in for their health insurance under a measure approved by an Illinois House committee. State employees who work for 20 years pay no health insurance premium when they retire. Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Mike Madigan and House Republican Leader Tom Cross all back the legislation. They all say Illinois is unable to afford the nearly $900 million spent each year to cover retirees' health insurance costs.
The former Dixon comptroller, charged with embezzling $53 million in city funds, has inspired legislation. A proposal filed by Republican state senators would require that certain records of local governments and school districts be made public. Audits, expense records and budgets would have to be posted online. A similar idea was introduced earlier this year, but the latest proposal is narrower in hopes of getting it passed.
An Illinois Senate panel has voted to end a perk that lets lawmakers hand out free tuition at state universities. The House has voted to get rid of the controversial program three years running. But, previous attempts have been blocked by Senate Democrats. The latest measure still has to pass the full Senate, then go back to the House for a final vote.