There was plenty for lawmakers not to like – in the proposals themselves, the tactics, or both – when they spent part of Thursday discussing ways to change the state’s underfunded pension systems.   Similar to Tuesday’s series of proposed firearms regulations, it was a chance to cast votes on individual and specific ideas.
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Depending on where you sit, it was either a way to gauge what sort of proposal would gain currency, or a way to build a track record of votes to use against representatives in future campaigns. In fact, almost all the representatives voted No or simply cast no vote at all.
The proposals: eliminate the cost-of-living adjustment; tie the cost-of-living adjustment to the systems’ funding levels; raise the retirement age to 65; and require a 5-percentage-point increase in employee contributions.
In one of the few moments of serious debate on the proposals, State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) called the elimination of COLA “a bridge too far.” Pension point person State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) acknowledged that particular remedy hits the poorest the hardest. “This eliminates any inflation protection at all,” she said.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) called it all a charade, saying lawmakers can tell their school districts class sizes are increasing because the pension problems remain unsolved.
HB 1154 FA 1 (end COLA) failed, 2-66, with 50 not voting.
HB 1154 FA 2 (tie COLA to funding level) failed, 5-62, with 51 not voting.
HB 1165 FA 1 (increase retirement age) failed 1-65, with 51 not voting.
HB 1166 FA 1 (increase contributions) failed 3-61, with 54 not voting.