Retirees & current workers in cross-hairs of pension plan

SPRINGFIELD -- A pension reform bill passed out of the house Thursday. It calls for big changes, not just for current workers, but retirees as well. WCIA-3's Brittany Harris finds out why sponsors say they had to include both.

They say it's the only way to get the job done. The pension debt is continuing to grow, nearing $100-billion.

"This single benefit is the most expensive single component of the pension benefits."

That benefit is the cost-of-living adjustment. Current workers and retirees get a three percent increase every year. Under the newly-passed house bill, it would change.

They'd only get an increase for the first $25,000 of their salary, or about $750 annually. That's not the only change.

When they get it will change as well. They'd have to wait until they're 67 or five years after their retirement starts.

"As painful as it is, we will never get the increase in cost of the pensions under control if we don't address the cost-of-living adjustment as it currently stands."

Representative Elaine Nekritz is the democrat sponsoring the bill. She says the changes aren't easy to make, but are needed to get the pension system back on track. Members from the other side of the aisle seem to agree.

"I remain open to different approaches, but I think, at the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that this is an arena that we have to play in to ensure that we have a pension system down the road."

"We're not looking at final product here, but we have to get something out there that is sustainable."

Critics seem to have the same problem with all previous pension proposals; they question if they're actually constitutional and think some of the changes to benefits are unfair.

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