ForbyFloor1SPRINGFIELD – A union-backed proposal to curb the state’s rising pension costs passed out of the Illinois Senate earlier today with bipartisan support. The measure, Senate Bill 2404, saves the state up to $46 billion over the next 30 years and guarantees 90% funding of the pension systems by 2045.

State Senator Gary Forby (D–Benton) was one 40 senators who supported the measure.

“I made a promise to the thousands of union members in my district that I would not support a pension bill that did not involve negotiations with the unions,” Forby said. “Having union leaders at the table was key in passing this bill.”

The proposal offers employees and retirees choices, such as keeping the current annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living increase on their pension benefits in exchange for giving up access to retiree health insurance.

The union-backed measure in the Senate rivals a proposal passed last week in the House. Questions have been raised about the constitutionality of the House proposal as the state’s labor unions have vowed to challenge the measure in court if the bill becomes law.

“The unions are obviously upset at the House’s proposal,” Forby said. “You can’t exclude them from the conversation and then shove changes down their throats.”

Senate Bill 2404 now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: News Releases

SPRINGFIELD – A measure passed in the Senate by State Senator Gary Forby (D–Benton) would re-establish the Combined Veterans Association of Illinois as the organization charged with running the annual beer tent at the Du Quoin State Fair. Senate Bill 1561 exempts state fair contracts between non-profit service organizations and the Illinois Department of Agriculture from a state law that requires at least three quotes for state issued contracts.

“As soon as the veterans found out they lost their beer tent contract, they reached out for help,” Forby said. “The local veterans do so much good for Southern Illinois; I knew I needed to find a way to get them their contract back.”

For nearly three decades, the Combined Veterans Association of Illinois has operated the annual beer tent at the Du Quoin State Fair. Their contract was up for renewal last year, and because of a recent change to a state law that requires three quotes for state contracts, the veterans lost the contract to a private vendor that submitted a higher quote. 

The beer concessions were the CVA’s biggest fundraiser, and the lack of funds hurt several veterans organizations in Southern Illinois. The concessions from the beer tent sales were used to help run its organizations and make contributions to charitable causes such as college scholarships for children of armed service members, The Women’s Center in Carbondale and the Anna Veterans Home.

“There are times when providing a valuable, charitable service to our communities trumps the need to make a profit,” Forby said. “I believe this is one of the situations. We need to ensure that the CVA and its associated organizations have the necessary funds to continue their great charitable work in Southern Illinois.”

Senate Bill 1561 now moves to the House for consideration.

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Photo: Senator Forby presenting Senate Bill 1561 to Executive Committee with Ray Watson from Department of Agriculture


Category: News Releases

SPRINGFIELD – On Tuesday, State Representative Brandon Phelps (D–Harrisburg) filed a bill legalizing concealed carry in the state. The Family and Personal Protection Act (HB 997) would allow licensed citizens to carry a handgun.

The bill follows in the wake of a ruling by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that declared the state’s ban on the right to carry unconstitutional and granted the General Assembly 180 days to pass a right-to-carry law. State Senator Gary Forby (D–Benton) is confident that the General Assembly will pass a reasonable concealed-carry bill.

“This is the year that we will finally grant responsible gun owners the right to carry a concealed handgun,” Forby said. “For too long we have denied the residents of this state the ability to exercise their Second Amendment right to protect themselves and their families.”

Illinois lawmakers who support concealed carry have been working for years to pass right-to-carry legislation.

“Representative Phelps introduced a similar bill last year in the House that fell just short of passage,” Forby said. “I am convinced we have enough votes in the Senate to pass a concealed-carry bill, and I think the added pressure of the circuit court’s decision might sway a few more representatives to support this bill.”

Under the new proposal, applicants must be 21 years old, own a FOID card, undergo four hours of training and pass a live-fire exercise.

Category: News Releases

SPRINGFIELD, IL— With the first week of veto session completed, Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) is optimistic about restoring funding for prisons and other vital state facilities.

“We overrode the governor’s budget veto with high numbers and bipartisan support,” said Sen. Forby.  “I expect the same thing will happen when the issue is brought before the House.”

The governor chose to veto the funding that the Senate and House appropriated to keep state prisons in Dwight and Tamms, a youth detention center in Murphysboro and halfway houses in Decatur and Carbondale open and operational.  Although a Senate and House override of the governor’s veto sends a strong message to the governor about their intent for the funds, they cannot stop him from shutting the facilities.

While these facilities hang in limbo, understaffed and some nearly empty, the Illinois prison population remains at an all-time high with other state institutions dangerously overcrowded. 

“You're going to have to do something with these inmates,” Sen. Forby said. “Where are you going to put them?” 

The underutilized facilities that the governor is attempting to close could provide a solution to the overcrowding and help ensure staff and inmate safety and jobs for hundreds of Illinoisans, at a time when the economic recovery is leaving too many behind.

Southern Illinois received a disappointing blow on Wednesday with the news that Willow Lake mine will be closing, displacing over 400 people from jobs in a region already struggling with unemployment.

“Killing more jobs is not the answer to balancing the budget,” said Sen. Forby.  “We need to keep people working in order to build our economy back up.”


Category: News Releases

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Springfield, IL 62706 
(217) 782-5509

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(618) 439-2504


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