SPRINGFIELD…. State Rep. Deanne M. Mazzochi’s (R-Elmhurst) House Bill 3263, designed to bring transparency to municipal governments’ public pension funds, this week was signed into law.
“Many of our public servants and their families depend on the IMRF pension fund. But Illinois is plagued with runaway pension costs. Taxpayers are on the hook for paying into these funds. Some property tax bills confirm municipalities are saddled with pension tax levies that are double or triple the amount of the municipalities’ levy for annual operational expenses,” said Mazzochi. “This is why it is critical to ensure that each and every year IMRF is fully disclosing all of its documents pertaining to municipalities’ past and future projected contributions. Municipalities cannot ethically budget, and residents cannot engage in meaningful oversight, without true and accurate information in real time.”
Public Act 101-0504 now requires IMRF participants to post the original terms for participation in the fund; as well as past and future contribution requirements. Mazzochi noted that pension watchdogs had previously complained that IMRF disclosures on these issues were at best superficial, and at worst hard if not impossible to find. “The law’s emphasis on disclosing all documents, and requiring IMRF to make links to the information available to our local municipalities for their own websites, IMRF participants and taxpayers will each have the IMRF financial funds details they need at their fingertips. This new law is a win for employees, retirees, and taxpayers.”
Mazzochi noted that as property tax bills continue to rise, it is all the more critical to ensure strong IMRF oversight. “Actuarially speaking, IMRF is considered one of Illinois’ most stable pension funds,” Mazzochi said. “But if it falters, that will lead to direct adverse impacts on everyone’s property tax bills. Improving transparency for this critical fund will provide taxpayers and employees with the tools they need to identify and predict problems so that it does not become dangerously underfunded like our five state pensions.” Illinois state pension funding is estimated to be $130-230 billion underfunded.
The legislation reflects Mazzochi’s ability to build coalitions to improve transparency and oversight. The bill passed with broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.