News

Yingling Demands End to Pension Payments for Convicted Felons

07/23/2014

GRAYSLAKE, Ill. – In response to recent high-profile instances of convicted felons collecting taxpayer-funded pensions, state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, filed legislation presenting options for common-sense reform intended to ensure Illinois' working families are not paying pension benefits to individuals serving prison sentences for serious crimes.

"Debates about how to address Illinois' pension and budget crises will continue in Springfield, but there is no question that our tax dollars shouldn't be funding pension benefits for criminals, and there is no excuse for inaction from the Legislature," Yingling said. "I talk to working families on a daily basis who play by the rules, but are still struggling to make ends meet; when they open the newspaper and find out that they're paying a pension to a felon, it's an insult. I urge every legislator to join me in standing up for the interests of those families and not the interests of criminals."

Yingling recently introduced three bills designed to strip pension benefits from felons. House Bill 6286 empowers the Illinois Attorney General and local state's attorneys to challenge the eligibility of annuitants who are serving time for a felony conviction, and seek judicial review of any pension system’s decision to pay benefits. A recent ruling by the Illinois State Supreme Court found that the Attorney General has no statutory authority to intervene in a case involving a former Chicago police officer who continues to collect a $54,000 taxpayer-funded pension while in prison for perjury and severe brutality.

Yingling has also proposed House Bill 6287, which would automatically direct a convicted felon's pension payments to the Illinois Department of Corrections as payment for costs associated with their incarceration, and House Bill 6288, which would end pension payments for convicted felons entirely while they are in prison.

"I have only been in the Legislature for a short time, but it doesn’t take long to see that hard-working men and women paying pensions to criminals is indicative of what politicians in Illinois have been doing wrong for decades," Yingling said. "These bills provide three simple solutions to one big problem, and I intend to tell legislators to pick one and pass it as soon as possible. I am committed to putting law-abiding, tax-paying citizens first; I hope that's something even politicians in Springfield can agree with."

Yingling represents the 62nd District, which contains portions of Gages Lake, Grayslake, Hainesville, the Round Lake communities, Wauconda and Wildwood.