URBANA — State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, said she missed Thursday's vote on House Speaker Michael Madigan's controversial pension reform plan because of a family medical emergency.
Jakobsson said her husband, Eric, had just been diagnosed with cancer. She left Springfield immediately on Thursday to be with him but returned to the Capitol on Friday.
Eric Jakobsson, a member of the Urbana City Council, learned that he has a melanoma. He will continue to serve on the council, she said.
"He's feeling fine. Sure, he's going to continue to serve on the council," she said. "As he told our granddaughter, 'I have a touch of cancer.'"
Naomi Jakobsson said she would have voted against the Madigan pension proposal — which passed 62-51 with few votes from downstate legislators. Only six of approximately 31 downstate House members, three from each party, voted for the Madigan pension bill.
Jakobsson said her legislative office in Champaign received "a lot" of calls about her missed vote on Thursday. Some, she said, "were unpleasant."
"A lot of people who are calling my office know that I would have voted no. They're not even looking at my previous history and all the no votes I took on the pension bills," she said. "People don't always understand the process, I know that. A lot of people don't realize that even if I had stayed to vote no, it wouldn't have changed the outcome. It wouldn't have dropped the number to 61."
She would have voted no, she said, because "a lot of the things I had voted no on before were in this bill. I have so many constituents who would have been affected."
She said "I have made a commitment to my constituents that I will work to protect their pensions. There might have to be some changes at sometime, but we need to make sure that everyone is at the table for those discussions. We have to make sure we are addressing all parts. With the bill that was presented (Thursday) I could just not vote for that."