Newly minted State Representative Brad Stephens (R-Rosemont) has made his priorities for Springfield clear by opting out of the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) and the state health insurance system.
“To say that our pension systems are in trouble is a gross understatement. I cannot in good conscience contribute to our $133 billion in pension debt by accepting the package offered to me,” Said Rep. Stephens. “Our pension systems pose significant structural issues that need to be re-examined and I believe that my decision to opt out is the best way for me to demonstrate how serious I am about working towards an impactful solution.”
GARS is currently only funded at 14.8%. It is the worst funded pension system in Illinois. Payments to Illinois’ five state pension systems are growing year over year, crowding out other areas of budget spending like education and social services. Stephens will be the 42ndrepresentative in the House to opt out of the program. The decision is final and irrevocable as administrative rules within the state pension system do not allow lawmakers to ever opt back in.
Rep. Stephens continued, “I know that refusing these benefits won’t single-handedly solve anything, but I am committed to doing what’s right for my constituents and leading by example. Until we address this pension crisis and get the state back on the right track to financial stability, it will continue to impact our overtaxed families.”
Rep. Stephens was sworn in as an appointed replacement for Michael McAuliffe on June 29thand will finish out the remaining 18 months of McAuliffe’s term. Residents are encouraged to contact Rep. Stephens at RepStephens.com or to call the district office at (773) 444-0611 if they would like to express their opinions or concerns on this or other areas of state policy.