UPDATE: IL Legislature Approves Fix for $100B Pension Shortfall

By: WIFR Newsroom; Lauren Kravets; AP
By: WIFR Newsroom; Lauren Kravets; AP
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Quotes on Illinois lawmakers' pension action

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Commentary and reaction to the Illinois General Assembly's historic passage of pension reform legislation:
   "Today, we have won. The people of Illinois have won. This landmark legislation is a bipartisan solution that squarely addresses the most difficult fiscal issue Illinois has ever confronted." -- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn
   "This is no victory for Illinois, but a dark day for its citizens and public servants." -- We Are One Illinois coalition of unions representing public employees and retirees.
   "We can't continue to be cemented into a stalemate. We cannot continue to be the embarrassment of the nation." -- state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago
   "If this legislation is found unconstitutional. We're out on a perch." -- state Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale.
   "The pension crisis is not truly solved until relief is brought to Chicago and all of the other local governments across our state that are standing on the brink of a fiscal cliff because of our pension liabilities." -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
   "Litigation is inevitable, and I hope that the courts issue an expedited ruling as to the constitutionality of the legislation. The sooner the better, so we can move our great state forward." -- Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
   "This bill isn't perfect and it wasn't without compromise, but it was undoubtedly the right thing to do for the state and its citizens." -- Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
   "The message is this is not a one-sided bill. There will be changes here, much-needed changes, but this bill is a well thought out, well balanced bill that deserves the support of this body, the state Senate and the approval of Gov. (Pat) Quinn." House Speaker Michael Madigan.
   "My concerns with this bill, is that there hasn't been any transparency." state Sen. Dan Duffy of Lake Barrington
   "Manufacturers and businesses across the state needed a sign from Springfield that they are serious about turning the economic ship around in Illinois. This is a step in the right direction." -- Greg Baise, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association

ILLINOIS (WIFR) – After years of discussion and a full day of debate, the Illinois Legislature has passed the $160 Billion Dollar Pension Reform Bill. The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 30-24 and the House passed the proposal by a margin of 63-53. The bill now goes to Governor Pat Quinn who has said he’ll sign it.

The measure is estimated to save about $160 billion over three decades. Illinois is known for having the worst funded state pension systems in the country. The bill would cut benefits for workers and retirees. It also raises the retirement age. Labor unions oppose the bill.

Teachers are just one group that will be affected by this pension plan. They will see cuts to their retirement plans under the pension reform and as expected many aren’t happy about it.

Mary Jo and Charles Powers each taught in Rockford Public Schools for decades. They're now retired and depend on their pensions to survive, but they'll soon see fewer benefits.
"We get a 3% increase every year for cost of living which doesn't come anywhere near to the cost of living increase, but at least it's something and they're really messing with that," said Mary Jo Powers.

Under the cuts to the cost of living adjustment, known as COLA, a teacher with 30 years of service, with an annual benefit of $67,000 will lose more than $284,000 over 20 years. A DCFS caseworker with 25 years of service and an annual benefit of $30,000 will lose more than $76,000 over two decades.

"What really irritates me is the fact that because the government screws up they take it out on the people," said Charles Powers.

Local state Senator Steve Stadelman voted in favor of this pension reform bill.

He said, "It's not a perfect bill by any means and any lawmaker can come up with a reason or excuse to vote against it, but by doing nothing, after years of inaction already, doing nothing is not a good option."

Mary Jo disagrees.

"It's better not to do anything than it is to do the wrong thing and to me, supporting this is the wrong thing."

The governor is expected to sign the bill soon, but unions and other groups want it challenged in court, saying it's unconstitutional. Senator Stadelman says he's confident it will go to court.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The Illinois Legislature has approved a historic plan to eliminate the state's $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation.

The House voted 62-53 Tuesday in favor of the plan, which the Senate approved just minutes earlier, 30-24. It now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it.

Lawmakers in the two Democrat-controlled chambers took up the plan after years of inaction on a problem that other states have addressed. It has damaged Illinois' credit rating and diverted key funds from schools and social service agencies.
Legislative leaders say the plan will save the state $160 billion over 30 years by cutting retirement benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees.

Labor unions oppose the measure and say they plan to file a lawsuit arguing it's unconstitutional.

UPDATE: SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois Senate approves $160B pension plan; measure still being considered by House.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The Illinois Senate has also started debating on a pension overhaul estimated to save $160 billion over the next three decades.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul told his colleagues Tuesday that each provision in the bill has been heavily negotiated.
The legislation proposes pushing back the retirement age on a sliding scale and cutting benefits for workers and retirees.
Illinois has the nation's worst-funded state pension system.

The House took up the matter earlier Tuesday as House Speaker Michael Madigan called it "balanced bill."
Several unions have opposed the bill, calling it unfair and unconstitutional.

Legislative leaders announced the agreement last week. A bipartisan committee that worked for more than five months on an agreement signed off on the plan Monday evening.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- The Illinois House has started debating a major overhaul aimed at addressing Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.

The measure is estimated to save roughly $160 billion over three decades. House Speaker Michael Madigan opened floor debate Tuesday afternoon.

Illinois has the nation's worst-funded state pension systems.
Legislative leaders announced the agreement last week. The bill would cut benefits for workers and retirees and raise the retirement age. It's opposed by labor unions, who say it's unfair and unconstitutional.

Union members have protested the measure saying it's unfair to retirees.

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