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Governor Pat Quinn dedicated the opening of his 2014 State of the State speech to highlighting the brave work of public servants and emergency responders throughout Illinois who routinely go above and beyond in their devotion to public safety.  Whether it is a horrific accident, a routine traffic stop, or a natural disaster, there is no question that these everyday heroes need to be recognized and appreciated for the extremely dangerous and unpredictable environment they encounter every day on the job.

The accolades to public safety officers and public servants during his speech were inspiring, but it is time for Governor Quinn to put his words into action.  During the hasty legislative process of reforming the State Employees’ Retirement System in 2010, a Tier 2 benefit structure was created for law enforcement employees hired after January 1, 2011. An inadvertent change was made to the definition of “state police officer” in the process, and as a result three groups of Illinois police officers hired after 1/1/11 are excluded:  Illinois Conservation Officers, Secretary of State Police Officers, and Capitol Police Officers.  

Representative Daniel Burke (D-Chicago) introduced House Bill 2600 in the Spring of 2013 to correct this error in the reform law.  The House Personnel and Pensions Committee passed the Bill unanimously; however, it has been stuck in a rut of politics ever since.

These peace officers all face the dangers and perils of police work.  There can be no argument to affirm their exclusion from the Tier 2 alternative formula pension system.  During his speech, Governor Quinn said, “we need to say, ‘No’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.”  While the courts are testing the constitutionality of the recent pension law, I call on Governor Quinn and the legislative leaders of Illinois to correct this inequality and allow House Bill 2600 to move forward through the legislative process and become the law of the land.  

Sean M. Smoot, Director and Chief Counsel, Illinois Policemen's Benevolent and Protective Association

This letter to the editor appeared in the Chicago Tribune on February 6, 2014, and in the State-Journal Register on February 2, 2014.

 

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