A plan Illinois’ governor and leading Republicans say takes a cue from the Senate President to save taxpayers one billion dollars in pension costs isn’t the leading Democrat’s plan and does not have his support.
Governor Bruce Rauner and leading Republicans Senator Christine Radogno and Representative Jim Durkin expressed their displeasure with the inaction on pension reform since the state Supreme Court declared a previous reform measure unconstitutional.
“It’s time to act and to act now,” Durkin said.
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The Governor says the plan they offered up is similar to a plan Senate President John Cullerton proposed, which Rauner says would save taxpayers a billion dollars a year. The Republicans say that money could be used to fund other things like MAP grants, human services and education, as an example.
However, the governor’s proposal to take salary increases out of collective bargaining doesn’t jive with Cullerton. In a statement Cullerton says it’s not a plan he can support.
“We apparently still have a fundamental disagreement over the role of collective bargaining in this process,” Cullerton wrote. “I think collective bargaining should continue to exist and the governor does not.”
The governor says he would like to remove more things from collective bargaining but in the spirit of compromise he’s only focusing on salary increases, something he says lawyers agree is constitutional.
Rauner says the proposal would be a consideration model that offers state employees options to either include their salary increase into their pension for a lower cost of living increase moving forward or, if the employee is willing, they could keep the current cost of living adjustment at 3 percent but not have salary increases pensionable. Rauner says he does not support diminishing already earned benefits.
The plan, Rauner said, would only address the State Employee, State University, General Assembly, and Teachers Retirement Systems and not judges’ pensions, something the governor said he would address at a future date. Rauner also says the plan does not impact any other pension funds around the state.
Illinois taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $113 billion for the state’s five pension funds, according to the most recent Auditor General's report.