Lawmakers pass pension proposal

By Alex Davis |

Published 12/03 2013 04:44PM

Updated 12/04 2013 10:19AM

Update: 10:01 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers finally have a deal on something they've been arguing about for close to half a decade. It's a plan they say will put the state's pension system back in line, erasing a giant deficit which drains the budget each year. WCIA-3's Alex Davis shows what it finally took to get the deal done.

"I want to thank all of those who had the political courage to vote 'yes' today."

Governor Pat Quinn is more than pleased with the General Assembly for passing a comprehensive pension reform bill Tuesday, saying it will restore fiscal stability to Illinois.

"I think it's important that we understand that the action of the General Assembly today, in a bipartisan way, will make our state stronger and will make the people stronger."

The state has the worst-funded pension system in the nation and the new law is expected to save the state $160 billion in the coming years. Still, after years of putting off the problem, not everyone is on board.

"The bill we passed in May, the Senate passed 2404, would have been a much better bill. It involved unpleasant choices, but still choices for people on their COLA, raises and other things and that would have passed constitutional muster. This, this thing is going to go to the Supreme Court."

Those tasked with the chore of finding a resolution to the nearly $100 billion unfunded liability are taking the criticism lightly saying it's one of the biggest fiscal issues Illinois has ever faced.

"People who were generally opposed, I was not surprised by that. There were good reasons to challenge the proposal, but it was a compromise proposal."

A compromise which took several years and a lot of give-and-take.

"It's been a long journey. We've been working hard on this. I think it was a healthy exercise of our democracy and I think we now need to move onto other issues that are as important to the people in our state."

The governor says he'll sign the bill as soon as he gets it. It could be delivered to him Wednesday.

He also said over and over it's a win for taxpayers. He said, each year pension payments take up more of the budget which means less money for things like education and human services. The change would relieve some of that pressure.

Credit rating agencies were also threatening to downgrade the state's rating again if it wasn't done. If they did that, it would cost the state more in interest when it borrows money for things like road projects.
Original: 4:44 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers in both the House and the Senate passed a proposal Tuesday which would reform the state's pension system. The bill includes a decrease in cost-of-living reductions for current state workers and retirees. It also increases the retirement age for some.

In exchange, state workers will contribute one percent less of their paychecks into the system. Governor Quinn has said he plans to sign the bill immediately. Unions have vowed to challenge the proposal in court. It does not take effect until June 1, 2014.

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