Lawmakers in Springfield are looking to crack down on the abuse of a taxpayer-funded pension system for local public employees.

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, or IMRF, pays the state’s local public employee pensions and it has seen its share of abuse, from members of private organizations receiving public pensions to spikes in payouts that, according to a Chicago Tribune report, have cost Illinois taxpayers more than $66 million since 2012.

Three new bills, all headed for a full vote in the Illinois House of Representatives, would restrict who qualifies for pensions, stop employees from trying to earn two pensions at once and call public attention to spiking the value of a pension right before retirement.

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State Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, who is sponsoring two reform bills, said he thinks lawmakers will be able to bring some positive reforms to the local pension fund.

“These issues are either happening because local government board members don’t know it’s occurring or you’ve got local government officials doing this without wanting the public to know.”

Breen said he still thinks reform can happen even though the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled multiple attempts to reform public pensions at the state and municipal level unconstitutional.

State law requires IMRF obligations be paid before any other local services, such as police salaries or road construction, can be funded.

According to the fund’s data, a pensioner’s average lifetime payout is more than $400,000.

IMRF officials were not immediately available for comment.


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