Gov. Pat Quinn says he’s going to be more aggressive in “reforming” pensions for state workers. The state last year reduced benefits for new state workers, but the governor opposed fiddling with benefits for existing workers, fearing that would be unconstitutional. He has now changed his tune.
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“We will have to roll up our sleeves this year in Illinois and enact public pension reform for existing employees,” he said in a speech Tuesday to the City Club of Chicago. Variables are employee and employer contributions, cost of living adjustments and retirement age. The state employees’ union says it’ll fight this in court. Meanwhile, the governor is looking to off-load some of the state’s pension costs. The state contributes $5.2 billion a year to pensions, but Quinn complains that only a fraction of that benefits workers directly under state control. Employees of state universities, community colleges and local school districts, for example, are in state-funded retirement plans. He wants state universities and school districts to contribute, figuring if they have “skin in the game,” they’ll think twice about awarding generous benefits.