Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Lawmakers to Discuss $138B Pension Deal

Six-day veto session begins Oct. 22

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has been trying to build support for a plan that could save $138 billion over the next 30 years.

    Members of Illinois' bipartisan pension committee were scheduled to meet Friday afternoon to discuss a proposed pension reform package that could save the state $138 billion over the next 30 years.

    Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has been working to build support for the proposal, which ties the cost-of-living adjustment to the rate of inflation, hoping that lawmakers will be able to act on it during the Oct. 22 veto session.

    The proposal on the table would change the cost-of-living adjustments received by retirees, currently set at 3 percent, to half of the Consumer Price Index. The adjustments would have a minimum of 1 percent and a maximum of 4 percent, the Pantagraph explained.

    The 10-member panel was formed this summer after lawmakers reached a stalemate on competing House and Senate pension plans.

    The Illinois House plan, proposed by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and backed by Gov. Pat Quinn, would have required employees to contribute 2 percent more of their earnings to their pensions. They would also have been required to delay retirement and accept less-generous annual cost-of-living increases. The state would guarantee it would make its required contribution every year.

    That plan was projected to save the state about $163 billion, but Cullerton said it was unconstitutional because pensions cannot be reduced.

    The Illinois Senate plan, supported by some of the state's largest public-employee unions, would have given state workers and retirees a choice in retirement benefits. He said it would save the state about $46 billion over the next 30 years, drawing criticism from many who argued the bill didn't go far enough.

    Cullerton called the newest proposal by the bipartisan committee "less unconstitutional" than the Madigan-backed plan.

    Illinois' unfunded pension liability is close to $100 billion, due largely to lawmakers shorting or skipping payments.

    Friday's meeting was scheduled to be held at the Bilandic Building, at 160 N. LaSalle St., at 1:30 p.m.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.