The governor plans to sign into law S.B. 1313, the bill that will require state retirees to pay for health insurance. Gov. Pat Quinn it’s a matter of state finances. “Just to have automatic payment of health care premiums for all that are retired is not really a good way to go. Our state can’t afford that,” he said. But health insurance for retirees was supposed to be the hook to get state workers into the less-generous retirement plan the governor proposed last month.
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Where does that leave the plan? “My reading is that that part of the governor’s proposal is no longer on the table. My reading is that by passing S.B. 1313 first, they’ve taken that dimension off the table,” says Robert F. Rich, director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, which published an analysis of the governor’s pension proposal. Rich says if pension reform is enacted, it will offer state workers no choice, and will have a hard time overcoming the “diminished or impaired” clause in the state Constitution. Under S.B. 1313, the state will determine each year how much retirees will have to pay for health insurance, and those with higher incomes – either retirement income from the state or outside income – will have to pay more than those with less income.