Quinn Signs Chicago Park District Pension Reform Bill

Gov. quietly signs measure designed to address a $971 million pension deficit

On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a pension reform measure designed to address a $971 million deficit in the district’s pension program.

The legislation, which was passed in November, contains a number of provisions aimed at stabilizing the Park District’s underfunded pension fund and bringing the funded ratio to 90 percent funded by 2049.

As of the end of 2012, the fund was 42.4 percent fully funded, down from 76.9 percent in 2003.
The law cuts annual cost-of-living increases for current retirees from 3 percent to the lesser of 3 percent or one-half of the rate of inflation, and raises the retirement age for existing employees under 45 from 50 to 58.

Gov. Quinn announced the signing by email, in part perhaps due to the political controversy the reform legislation is generating.

While the district itself praised the signing, calling it “critical to ensuring retirement security for our current employees and retirees,” others such as unions who have supported Quinn in the past.

“We’re incredibly disappointed in what Gov. Quinn did,” union spokesman Adam Rosen told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We did not know he’d be signing this today. He did not tell us. We found out about the same time you did.”

Others are holding up the Park District pension deal as a model of a potential path forward for other pension problems, such as the City of Chicago’s ongoing $36 billion pension shortfall:

Members of a bipartisan committee dealing with the state's pension nightmare say the park district plan won't necessarily be a blueprint for state reforms. But they say it could serve as a "test case" in the courts, which are expected to have final say on the constitutionality of any reform passed by the Legislature.

After the law passed in November, Gov. Quinn refused to indicate if he would sign the bill. That may have been in part because unions such as SEIU Local 73, opposed the measure.

SEIU gave Quinn at least $2.5 million in his 2012 governor’s race.  

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