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Kotowski supports legislation to save taxpayers hundreds of millions

SenatorKotowski_Floor_2011

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Legislation today sent to the governor will save taxpayers nearly $200 million by reforming the way the State pays for retired workers’ health insurance costs. The major cost-saving measure would eliminate free health care premiums for state retirees, legislators, and judges that have the means to pay for it.

State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee, said this is the first of what will likely be a set of difficult – albeit necessary – choices to ensure the state lives within its means and ends the reckless spending policies of the past.

“This meaningful reform changes ‘business as usual’ in Springfield and will save taxpayers about $200 million every year,” Senator Kotowski said. “During these difficult economic times, we can no longer afford to provide free health insurance coverage for the people that have the means to pay for it. This measure demands greater accountability from everyone.”

Currently, most retired state and university employees receive free health insurance if they work 20 years for the State of Illinois. Retired members of the General Assembly are granted this benefit if they serve four years in the House or Senate, and retired judges earn the benefit after six years. In total, almost 80,000 (or nearly 90%) do not pay for their health care premiums. That cost is picked up by the State, which will result in almost an $890 million this year for Illinois taxpayers.

Although it’s unclear how much retirees will specifically have to pay towards their insurance premiums, the legislation allows for the construction of a “sliding scale.” Under this model, those with higher pensions would pay more for health coverage compared to those who receive a lower pension benefit.

After passing the Senate today, the measure will be sent to the governor for his consideration.

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