Illinois Senate panel advances pension reform

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State Capitol in Springfield

The pension deal cut by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and the state employee unions advanced today, sending the bill to the full Senate for a vote.

The legislation is Cullerton’s latest attempt to pass a pension bill that follows what he believes is a constitutionality sound way to get around promises that retirement benefits would not be reduced once they are established.

“This is the only way around it,” Culleton said.

The bill won approval in the Senate Executive Committee on a 9-5 vote over the protests of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The group rejects Cullerton’s belief that the proposal is constitutionally valid because it offers workers and retirees a choice of benefit options.

Bob Pinkerton, the group’s vice president, said the options are basically “either jump off the cliff or I’ll shoot you.”

Pinkerton said his group is prepared to sue the state if the proposal becomes law, saying it would diminish benefits in violation of the constitution.

Chicago Tribune Staff Report
Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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