Though sponsored by the Senate President and supported by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a measure to reform Illinois’ pensions is on hold. During a Senate Executive Committee meeting Wednesday the question of pension reform lead to an exchange between Rauner Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs Richard Goldberg and Senate President John Cullerton. Although he’s its sponsor, Cullerton said there’s not enough support for the measure to put the bill forth. “I don’t think it would be helpful to introduce a bill, have a roll call and have it go down,” Cullerton said. “I think that would be counterproductive.” However, leading Republican Sen. Christine Radogno said despite previous opposition, she now supports the proposal. “Have we reconsidered on pensions? Heck yes we’ve reconsidered on pensions,” Radogno said. “The (Illinois) Supreme Court gave us no other alternatives.”
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Cullerton, though, said any possible savings, estimated to be $1 billion a year, wouldn’t be realized for a couple of years as the measure is guaranteed to be challenged in the courts. “It would take a year before it would go into effect and I would anticipate that there would be litigation,” Cullerton said. “So, we probably can’t count on any of those savings for a couple of years.” Goldberg said that’s “all the more reason to do (pension reform) as soon as possible.” Illinois has an unfunded pension liability estimated to be nearly $113 billion and lawmakers have said the state retiree benefit soon could absorb a quarter of every tax dollar the state brings in. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled a previous pension reform law an unconstitutional diminishment of benefits last May.