State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the state’s problems with pensions have been put on the backburner during the budget stalemate. What they don’t agree on is whether any pension reform measure could be passed before the budget battle is settled. State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) believes passing a spending plan remains top priority. “Fair or unfair, I think it’s a travesty. I think it’s also understandable that without a budget, it’s hard to have much of a conversation about anything, particularly any other fiscal issue,” Biss said.
Click here for summary
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in May 2015 that the pension reform law passed in 2013 was unconstitutional. Since then, several different solutions have been floated. State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) has legislation offering retirees a lump sum payment option for their pension, which he says would save the state some money in the long run. He thinks those kind of smaller proposals can be considered even in the absence of a A budget. “We’re not going to do these couple of sweeping changes and get things to turn around overnight,” Batinick said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s going to take a lot of small victories instead of a handful of big victories.” A December report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability estimated the state’s unfunded pension liability rose to $111 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2015.