Pritzker ready to sign plan to merge local pension funds

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — Illinois lawmakers have sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker a measure that merges 650 local police and fire pension systems to boost investment returns and save money.

The Senate voted 42-12 Thursday on the Democratic governor’s plan to create two statewide retirement programs for police employees and firefighters.

The funds’ combined assets would be $15 billion. Pritzker says the investment power would increase returns by $800 million to $2.5 billion in the first five years and save local governments money on administrative costs.

Republicans objected to a provision in Elgin Democratic Sen. Cristina Castro’s bill that increases benefits for employees hired after 2011. Cost-saving benefits offered so-called Tier 2 employees are too low to remain in compliance with federal Social Security guidelines.

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