Illinois House approves major pension reform bill

The Illinois House today approved a major change in the state pension system that could save an estimated $100 billion by cutting down the exponential growth of automatic cost-of-living increases for retiree paychecks.

The 66-50 roll call represented the most far-reaching vote taken in the spring legislative session on pension reform and sends the measure to the Senate, which just approved a much less ambitious pension bill.

Political opposition remains strong, however, and prospects for the measure are uncertain. Illinois lawmakers have for years debated how to deal with the nation’s most underfunded public employee pension system without taking major action.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, still would need to pass a Senate that has strong qualms about its constitutionality. But the measure was characterized repeatedly by supporters as a key component of any overhaul because it attacks the annual increases that are the biggest cost drivers in the pension system.

Under the proposal, automatic annual cost of living increases for state workers and teachers would only be applied to the first $25,000 of a person’s pension rather than the entire amount if it is higher. A retiree also would not get an annual cost-of-living increase until they have been retired for at least five years or until they are 67.

By Ray Long and Rafael Guerrero Tribune reporters

rlong@tribune.com

raguerrero2@tribune.com

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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12 comments

    • Fed up

      So, we can't afford our cops, teachers, and firefighters, but we can continue to she'll out money for welfare, Medicaid, and politicians massive salaries.

  • Just Me

    This is classic Illinois "look, we passed a bill" politics. Good luck with the constitutionality of it, if it even makes it to the Governor's desk. Besides that, decreasing the peon's pensions won't fix what got Illinois in this mess; "borrowing" from pension funds, and deferring payments to maintain a workable balance. Both need to be made illegal, or this will just happen again.

  • Fock u wgn

    Seriously wgn. You removed my comment that was completely unoffensive and mocked how you asterisked words like c-l-a-s-s and p-a-s-s. Go fock yourselves!

  • Curious

    I am curious for those of you who are against pension reform how should we fix the state finances. We either have to cut spending or increase income. If you choose the income what is the best income, sales, real estate or corporate. Also I find it offensive that anyone here would insinuate that one group of pension folks "teachers" are less deserving than others "police and fire". All are important. The bottom line is that the voters are to blame because you continued to elect bad officials

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