State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) discusses Senate Bill 35, the pension bill he sponsored, on Wednesday at the Capitol.SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement regarding today's Senate action on public pensions:

Today members of the Illinois Senate seriously and openly debated the most immediate threat facing our state: the rising pension payments that are crowding out spending on our top priorities, from education to public safety. I am grateful to my colleagues for their contributions to this conversation and for their serious consideration of my comprehensive reform proposal, Senate Bill 35. Although the measure did not have enough votes to pass, I tremendously appreciate the significant and bipartisan support it received and believe the debate on SB 35 was a constructive one.

While I feel that the framework I presented would fix the structural problems that perpetuate our unmanageable pension liability, I also supported Senate Bill 1, which the Senate passed today. Senate President John Cullerton has worked diligently to craft a bill that satisfies one widely held interpretation of the pensions clause while still achieving significant savings. Senate Bill 1 is a step in the right direction, and I hope it will open the door to further meaningful action in both chambers.

As I told my colleagues today on the Senate floor, our constitution includes a strong protection of public pension benefits. We also have constitutional obligations to fund education, provide for public health and safety and promote the well-being of all our residents. I believe those of us who voted "yes" – on either bill – understand clearly that our actions today constitute an admission that we've failed to keep our promises. But we have reached a point where there are no easy answers and no easy votes. I'm cautiously optimistic that in the coming weeks we'll take further action resulting in sustainable retirement systems, balanced priorities and solutions that are as equitable as possible to public employees, retirees and all citizens of Illinois.

Category: Press Releases

State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) testifies in favor of Senate Bill 35, his pension reform bill, in front of the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday in Room 212 of the Capitol.SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement after the Senate Executive Committee recommended his comprehensive pension reform plan (Senate Bill 35) to the full chamber for a vote:

As our rising pension payments threaten education and the social safety net, we need a solution that stabilizes the state's finances while guaranteeing retirement security for the people who teach our students and keep state government running. I think the plan I've proposed strikes this balance.

My aim is to end the long, bitter impasse over pension reform by combining the best of existing proposals, adding a few innovative features and guaranteeing the state will never again shirk its obligations. SB 35 is designed to protect people with smaller pensions and those closest to retirement while putting in place structural changes to stabilize the pension systems and restore them to fiscal health.

I'm looking forward to an energetic debate of the legislation's merits, and I'm optimistic that a renewed sense of purpose will drive our deliberations now that we've begun grappling with the unforgiving numbers in this year's budget.

Projected savings from SB 35:

  • Unfunded liability immediately reduced by 29 percent, from $95 billion to $67 billion
  • Total state pension contributions from 2013 through 2045 reduced by 41%, from $397 billion to $238 billion
  • Next year's required state contribution reduced by 27 percent, from $6.7 billion to $4.9 billion (this year's payment is $5.7 billion)

Click here for a summary of SB 35's main features and an explanation of its projected effects on Illinois' finances.

Category: Press Releases

biss75x75SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement on the budget plan Gov. Quinn presented to lawmakers today:

This proposed budget, which cuts nearly $400 million from education and threatens core services Illinois residents depend on every day, starkly highlights the urgent need to achieve pension reform. With 19 percent of our state budget this year going toward the pension payment, our top priorities are now experiencing the dire consequences of inaction. Heartbreakingly, this includes our children and our essential safety net.

I'm ready to work with my colleagues toward the most equitable solution possible so budgets like this one remain worst-case scenarios and not the new normal for Illinois.

Category: Press Releases

medicaidSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement after the Senate approved Medicaid expansion legislation he co-sponsored:

"I'm pleased to support improved access to health care for many of our state's most vulnerable residents. Accepting the available federal funds will let us move medical treatment out of the emergency room and into the doctor's office and mental health clinic. Today, by choosing full participation in the Affordable Care Act, we're also moving toward coordinated, preventive, effective care and away from a system that treats the uninsured only after their conditions have become costly and debilitating. I'm proud Illinois is taking advantage of this opportunity, after last year's difficult cuts, to put our Medicaid program back on the right track."

Key components of Senate Bill 26:

  • All adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit ($15,415 for an individual) will be able to enroll in Medicaid starting January 1, 2014. Currently, adults are eligible for Medicaid only if they have disabilities or care for dependent children.
  • The federal government will reimburse Illinois for 100 percent of the costs of covering these newly eligible enrollees through 2017.
  • The reimbursement rate will decrease gradually after 2017 but stay at 90 percent after 2020.
  • If the federal government fails to reimburse the state at 90 percent or above, the newly eligible clients will become ineligible; Illinois will not be stuck with the bill.

Expected benefits include:

  • Access to routine, coordinated care for 342,000 low-income adults
  • Fewer unnecessary and uncompensated emergency room visits
  • An influx of $1.1 billion in federal dollars in the first year and more than $12 billion in federal funds in the first eight years of the expansion
  • Job creation in the health care sector
  • $105 million in annual savings to the state as federal funds replace state expenditures on mental health, HIV/AIDS drugs and other areas of spending
  • A reduction in the burden on hospitals and local government currently caring for the uninsured
  • Better preventive care and mental health care for a vulnerable segment of the population
Category: Press Releases

Contact Me

District office:
3706 Dempster St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 568-1250
(847) 568-1256 FAX

Springfield office:
417B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

Email:
senatorbiss@gmail.com

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