Senate, House Vote to Override Rauner's Veto on Chicago Police and Fire Pension Bill

In an unexpected move Monday, both the Illinois Senate and House have voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto on a plan to reduce Chicago's payments to its police and fire pension funds. 

Last week, Rauner vetoed the plan that would save the city an estimated $1 billion by decreasing pension payments over the next five years, saying it was the kind of "irresponsible" practice that led to Illinois' deep financial woes.

Rauner called Monday's vote "unfortunate," saying the move puts an additional $18.6 billion "on the backs of taxpayers."

"Clearly, those who supported this measure haven’t recognized what happens when governments fail to promptly fund pension obligations," Rauner said in a statement. "Instead of kicking the can down the road, local and state governments should instead focus on reforms that will grow our economy, create jobs and enable us live up to the promises we’ve made to police and firefighters.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said after the Friday veto that the Republican governor "just told every Chicago taxpayer to take a hike" and warned it would lead to "the Rauner tax."

On Monday, Emanuel thanked lawmakers for their votes.

"On Memorial Day I particularly want to thank‎ the Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly for putting politics aside‎ and doing the right thing for Chicago taxpayers, and for our first responders," he said in a statement. "We in the city agreed to step up and finally do our part to and responsibly fund these pensions, and I want to thank Springfield for doing their part as well. I also want to thank all our partners in labor, business groups and everyone else who stood up in support of this bill. I particularly want to thank Senate President Cullerton and Speaker Madigan for their leadership on behalf of the entire city. While for the first time in history our police and fire pensions will be funded appropriately, I will not rest until and Municipal and Laborers pensions are fully secured as well."

The legislature approved the measure last year. Democrats said it would save the retirement funds without crushing taxpayers.

"They voted for what is a very reasonable, reasoned approach to meeting city obligations to the police and fire pension systems," said Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

Chicago's payments to the funds are set to jump to $840 million this year, up from $300 million. The legislation would have set the 2016 payment at $619 million.

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