A day after Gov. Pat Quinn suggested raising the state cigarette tax to save Medicaid, he turned his attention to Illinois' pension issues.
"We have to act quickly," Quinn said in a Friday news conference. "We have our plan."
His plan to help solve a soaring state debt as pension costs continue to rise includes delaying the cost-of-living adjustment to age 67 or five years after retirement, and raising the retirement age to 67, the latter of which will "be phased in over several years."
"This will make our state a stronger state," Quinn said.
Quinn also wants a three percent increase in employee contributions and public sector pensions to be limited to public sector employment.
"We have to band together and solve the problem," Quinn said, noting the changes could save taxpayers $65 to $85 billion.
Illinois' deficit could reach $34.8 billion in the next five years unless something is done about the state's enormous backlog of unpaid bills.
Quinn said it will take 30 years to fully fund pensions, and right now there's an $83 billion shortfall. He said the changes, following discussions by his pension working group, will "lead to greater certainty in Illinois’ business climate."
The proposal, Quinn said, will provide 100 percent funding for pension systems by 2042.
Republicans reacted mostly favorable to the plan but worried about a property tax hike to pay pension costs. "This will get the attention of employees," said Rep. Tom Cross. "I applaud the governor."
Though Quinn didn't call for an increase in taxes, Cross believes it will end up as a property tax hike.
"There's some outstanding components," said Sen. Chris Radogno.