A union-backed pension bill, discussed over the past week with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago, pictured) is now out in the open. The bill, to be heard in committee Wednesday, follows last week’s passage in the House of a different bill. Lawmakers are trying to address a $100 billion unfunded liability for the state’s pension systems.
Click here for summary
“The fact that the House and the speaker (have) pushed a bill over here, which I think forced the unions to compromise. I appreciate the fact that they’ve done it. It’s not easy, because this is voluntarily agreeing to take money from their members,” Cullerton said.
With the new pension bill there are two choices. The first lowers the cost of living adjustment, which allows for retirees to receive health care benefits and all future earnings are pensionable. The second choice splits into two options. Each keeps the cost of living adjustment, but option one does not give retiree health care and future salary increases are not pensionable. Whereas option two participants can receive retiree health care and future salary increases are pensionable, employees pay an additional 2 percent in employee contributions over two years and the COLA is delayed for 3 years.
Cullerton says this is constitutional and a better option than the bill which passed the House Thursday. “(This is) money that we know that will be there, whereas the other approach is pretty risky. It could be zero and a delay of a year,” Cullerton said.