Lawmakers certain this pension plan will work

Published 02/27 2013 03:59PM

Updated 02/27 2013 05:33PM

SPRINGFIELD -- State leaders haven't agreed on a way to fix public pensions in more than a year, but now a group of lawmakers says it has the answer to the state's biggest financial problem. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

Lawmakers from both parties and both houses are working on a brand new bill; basically starting from scratch. They say it's the one which will finally get our state out of its financial black hole.

"We all know we are in a really, really difficult predicament money-wise."

So, state lawmakers have a new plan to fix that. They want older public employees to pay in more, retire later in life and get smaller cost-of-living increases. New teachers would be on a hybrid system similar to 401K.

It also includes a cost shift away from the state for workers at universities and downstate school districts; something that's been a roadblock for reform. But, now the state would stop paying for anyone hired after January 1, 2014, which lets the switch happen over time.

"We know these changes are really significant, but that's the level of changes which need to occur in order to fix the problem."

The problem is costing the state $17-million each day. Instead, this plan would save money and get the state's budget moving in the right direction.

"If we had been able to pass this bill a year ago, and it had become law, we would have cut our pension payment down by $2-billion."

It means $2-billion more for other state services. Critics argue the changes aren't fair though and worry it could mean no pensions at all down the road. But, lawmakers say under this plan, that won't happen.

"It's the only way we think, as a state, we can sustain a pension system and take care of our employees at the same time."

Lawmakers say they're feeling good about this one since it's the only plan, so far, where they've had support from both parties in both houses. The House is set to take up a debate starting Thursday.

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