Gov. Pat Quinn hopes soon to resolve two problems with public pensions. Problem No. 1 is individuals who boost their pensions with a last-minute appointment or one day of work in a different job. Quinn says he wants legislation to end what he calls abuse. “This has to be done promptly,” he said.
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“Hopefully within a week or two we’ll have a law or bill on my desk that I can sign into law to end any kind of monkey business in this area of getting pension payments that are far beyond what are reasonable or deserved.” Problem No. 2 is the lack of money in state pension funds to pay benefits promised to workers. The state has an unfunded pension liability of approximately $80 billion. A two-tier system is being talked about, in which state workers would have to accept lesser benefits or keep the same benefits but make greater contributions themselves. The governor would not commit to that, but says a solution will be found.
The issue is complex because the state Constitution, Article 13, Sec. 5, states that membership in a state pension system is an enforceable contract, “the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” Lawmakers will be in Springfield through Thursday, and Nov. 8-10.