SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. Jim Edgar signed a bill re-establishing the Illinois Pension Laws Commission, a legislative oversight agency eliminated in the mid-1980s.
Senate President Pate Phillip, a sponsor of the bill, said the earlier commission advised the state's General Assembly on all pension-related legislation. He added the Legislature almost always followed the commission's recommendations.
Since the demise of the previous commission, he said, members of the Legislature had been besieged by pension lobbyists. "We need the protection and oversight of the Pension Laws Commission back to help us rationalize pension law in the state," Mr. Phillip said.
The commission won't have any direct authority over the management of the state's public pension funds. It is charged with providing to the General Assembly an impact statement about the effects of any legislation on public funds, including long- and short-term costs. The commission will be made up of eight legislative and eight public members.
The commission is expected to be operating by October, when the General Assembly reconvenes.
Miriam Santos, Chicago's treasurer, said the re-establishment of the commission is "a good, positive first step toward better oversight of the public pension system in Illinois.
"There needs to be some greater authority over the actions of the boards of trustees without adding incredible bureaucracy to consider all aspects of the economic impact of pension legislation."
Ms. Santos said she hopes the Pension Laws Commission will become a model for better oversight of Chicago's pension funds.