Emanuel applauds veto override of Chicago pension bill

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CHICAGO -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel is celebrating a victory in Springfield -- a new law that will allow the city to lower its contribution to its police and fire pension funds by about $220 million.

Lawmakers voted Monday to override Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of the bill, averting an immediate financial crisis.

“Now today, for the first time in decades our police and fire pensions are adequately funded so our men and women in uniform and their families can retire knowing there will be a retirement plan for them,” Emanuel told reporters at a City Hall news conference.

The Mayor says the action saved Chicago from a $300 million property tax hike.

“It allowed Chicago to avoid raising property taxes an additional $300 million that was not necessary, given all the other challenges we also face," Emanuel said.

The Mayor personally lobbied lawmakers, working the phones over the weekend.

He says the end result is a bill that gives Chicago short-term budget relief.

“We are closer to the other side of the shore than we were from where we began,” Emanuel told reporters.

Right now the police pension system is 26 percent funded and the fire pension system is only 23 percent funded.

The new law also gives the police and fire funds more time -- about 40 years -- until they have to become 90 percent funded.