CHICAGO – State Rep. Fran Hurley is supporting an initiative from the comptroller that will guarantee full funding for survivor benefits for first responders killed in the line of duty – ending the existing possibility of a family being forced to wait for support because funds were exhausted during the state budget’s fiscal year.
“It’s unacceptable for bureaucratic hurdles to get in the way of providing grieving families the support they deserve and are owed,” Hurley said. “This proposal is a commonsense measure that cleans up our laws and will ensure families receive the critical support needed in their most difficult hour.”
Hurley is a chief cosponsor of House Bill 5785, known as the “Gold Star and Fallen Heroes Family Support Act.” The proposal creates a continuing appropriation for line of duty awards when the existing appropriation is insufficient to cover all claims in a fiscal year. The existing Line of Duty Compensation Act provides a death benefit for claims filed within a year of death of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, paramedic, armed forces member and other state employees killed in the line of duty. Existing law also provides a burial benefit for law enforcement and firefighters killed in service. Benefit amounts are currently $375,475 and are provided to the surviving spouse or next of kin. The amount given increases by the Consumer Price Index each year. Under current practice, if funds for the benefit run out due to greater than anticipated need, the General Assembly is required to pass a supplemental appropriation. This situation occurred this past year, which resulted in a delay of support for a family of a fallen law enforcement officer. Under the plan Hurley is backing, this kind of delay would never happen again.
“Our first responders are there for us and our families in our greatest time of need, the least we can do is make sure we can help their family if the worst happens,” Hurley said.