Kirk Dillard, Patti Bellock on Different Sides of Pension Overhaul Votes

Bellock voted for the legislation in the House Tuesday, while Dillard voted against it in the Senate.

Kirk Dillard (File photo)
Kirk Dillard (File photo)
Hinsdale's two General Assembly members came down on different sides of Tuesday's big pension reform votes in the Senate and House.

Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) voted against the pension bill that passed both chambers and now awaits Gov. Pat Quinn's signature, while Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) voted to support it.

READ: Illinois Passes Historic Pension Reform

The legislation, officials say, will save $160 billion over the next 30 years through several measures including raising the retirement age for many public employees, skipping some annual cost-of-living increases, and providing a 401(k)-style option for public employees going forward, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The pension overhaul bill passed in Dillard's Senate by a 30-24 vote. In Bellock's House, the vote was 62-53.

Dillard, a 2014 Republican gubernatorial candidate, issued a statement Tuesday that said his "no" vote was based on "lingering questions" about the bill's constitutionality and the "lack of public vetting" it went through.

He said lawmakers didn't see the bill until the day Monday.

"Considering the limited time most legislators had to analyze this legislation, it was impossible to thoroughly evaluate and understand the measure," Dillard said. "This legislation will not only affect hundreds of thousands of retired teachers and state employees, but its impact will span generations. I understand that pension reform is absolutely necessary if Illinois is going to dig itself out of its fiscal hole, but rushing this process is not in the best interest of the retirees we’re ultimately trying to protect."

He also had concerns about what the state would do with the $160 billion the bill is supposed to save in future years. 

"Neither the House speaker, Senate president, nor the governor have demonstrated the budgetary discipline needed to reduce the state’s multi-billion dollar bill backlog, or limit spending in order to allow the tax increase to expire as they promised," Dillard said. "Knowing this, without assurance that the savings will be used prudently, I hesitate to free-up billions of additional dollars that they can use to further expand entitlement programs or subsidize more pet projects at the expense of our retired teachers, state workers and law enforcement officers."

Bellock said she supported the bill because she thinks will "restore the fiscal order in Illinois" and ensure "a solid pension system for all of our hardworking state employees and teachers" that pay into it. 

The representative said she's been working hard the last four years to halt the state's credit-rating drop, and has been told that the pension issue and Medicare are the root causes. 

"This was our opportunity and I don’t know if we’ll have another one in the next three or four years," Bellock said.


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