Pension showdown looms in Springfield

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The Illinois Senate is moving quickly to take up one of two proposals to deal with the worst-funded pension program in the entire nation.  Illinois’ pension debt is nearly $100 billion.

The Senate plan, proposed by Senate President John Cullerton, passed the Executive Committee yesterday afternoon basically along party lines, on a vote of 10-5 — despite objections by a retired teachers group that the plan as proposed violates a provision of the constitution guaranteeing that pensions, once established, will not be reduced in any way.

Senate President Cullerton told WGN this morning that he is quite convinced what he has proposed will pass a constitutional challenge.

“Anybody can file a lawsuit, but the fact that all of the unions would be supportive of the bill, as opposed to going to court and filing a brief against it, is very helpful,” Cullerton said.  “We think that this bill that we have today is very, very certain to withstand legal challenge.”

The Senate is likely to vote today on Senate President Cullerton’s proposal.

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s pension proposal is much different and much more aggressive.  Some observers believe Madigan’s plan is more likely to fail a constitutional challenge.

We should learn more today about which proposal advances further in Springfield.

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