Employee and Retiree Pension Reforms to be Studied

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.

Legislation to reform state pensions and health care benefits was tabled for further negotiations this summer.  SB512 and SB175 stimulated a lot of anxiety among current and retired state employees and heated communication with legislators.  I worked with the sponsors to encourage this process for developing long-term solutions.

The bills, which advanced without discussions with all affected stakeholders, were aimed at reducing the cost of employee benefits.  For years the state has enhanced employee benefits and not set aside the full cost for those benefits.  Now as those benefits need to be paid, the state finds the cost too high.  Pension payments alone will soon exceed the state’s investment in education.

Among the big questions to be decided by the legislation are fair employee compensation and legality of making any changes to current employee benefits.  This is where negotiation with the affected parties is critical.  Lawsuits can be avoided and benefits can remain fair through this process.

Private companies have adjusted employee compensation—including wages, pension and health care—over the years in response to market conditions.  Public sector employee compensation has been very slow to change and usually is enhanced through contract negotiations.

Public sector wages that once were considered low when compared with the same type of private sector jobs are not now generally the case.  Public sector employee health care benefit costs have grown greatly as people live longer, use modern procedures and medications, and experience increased cost of services.

I encourage representatives of all stakeholders to engage in thorough, sincere efforts to find a sustainable, fair compensation package.  I will be sharing your views with negotiators.

District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com

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Robert W. Pritchard (R-Hinckley) is the Illinois State Representative for the 70th district, serving the residents in portions of DeKalb, Boone, and Kane Counties. Bob has been serving in the Illinois House since 2003. Pritchard, affectionately known as Bob, has been serving in the Illinois House since 2003. Biography Bob was born February 2, 1945. He grew up on a farm outside Hinckley, Illinois where growing corn and soybeans instilled in him hard work and a sense of dedication. Bob and his family continue to their hard work by farming. He is married to his wife Mary, Associate Dean at Northern Illinois University, and has two grown sons, Matthew and Gregory. Education Bob majored in communications from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) earning both his bachelors and masters degree. Bob’s passion for farming and his education in communication gave him the unique opportunity to enjoy working in both fields. Professional Life Beginning as a Radio and TV broadcaster for a local area stations, Bob delivered the farming updates and local weather reports. Bob took advantage of his skills and has worked for universities as well as filled marketing, public relations, and community relation roles at DeKalb Genetics Corporation and Monsanto. Community Leader Before becoming a member of the Illinois House of Representatives Bob was an energetic and busy contributor to the communities of DeKalb County. Getting his hands dirty in all parts of local government, Bob served on the Hinckley-Big Rock Board of Education. Bob was never far from his roots in the farming community, and was elected to a leadership position for the DeKalb County Farm Bureau. He also served as chairman for the DeKalb County Board. Legislative History Bob has diligently worked for the betterment on a wide gamut of issues from early childhood and education, healthcare, conservation and the environment, job creation, and protecting the manufacturing industry. The values of hard work and dedication that were instilled in Bob from his years of farming are reflected in his mentality of representing his constituents.


  1. All employees have been hurt by our for profit health care system that costs twice as much as any other industrialized country’s system and has worse outcomes. We have had double digit health care inflation for decades. Until this is fixed retirement security will be at risk for millions of Americans. Private sector employers have reduced wages and benefits as they have taken advantage of low wages and even prison and child labor in foreign countries. Nike was paying children 12c per hour to assemble their expensive Air Jordan basketball shoes. U.S. corporations have outsourced our jobs and our tax base as they dodge 100 billion in federal taxes with their p.o. boxes in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas. The only way for Americans to enjoy a decent standard of living is to reinstate sane tax and trade policies. Our government is collecting lower taxes from the corporations and the wealthy than during Reagan’s terms. Our financial services sector is now 25% of our economy and the only thing that they create is debt. We need manufacturing and fair trade. U.S. corporations are more profitable than ever as they hire workers abroad. The middle class will not come out of this depression until we put the interests of America ahead of the CEO’s. There is no end to this corporate greed that has damaged America and threatens to make us a third world country.