Chicago’s mayor says it’s time to “hit the pause button” on costly cost-of-living increases for public pensions. Rahm Emanuel, in the first public testimony in Springfield by a sitting Chicago mayor in many people’s memory, said a Chicago employee who made $60,000 upon retirement in 1995 now draws a pension in the six figures, and that’s not sustainable. While there is no proposed legislation attached to his proposal, it includes a 10-year freeze on cost of living adjustments and a five-year increase in the retirement age.
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“We do not face these challenges in the city or in the state because our public employees or our taxpayers did anything wrong. They did what was required every pay stub,” Emanuel told members of the House Personnel and Pensions Committee. Speaking to reporters afterward, House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) said “everybody’s got a little skin in the game,” pointing to longer life expectancy and the failure of the General Assembly to make payments. When reminded of a recent report of former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley’s expanded pension, Cross said, “We need to look going forward at how do we address this problem, not look back.”