A bill aimed at fixing Illinois' hundred billion pension crisis is before Gov. Pat Quinn. A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton said Wednesday that the bill had been sent to Quinn. The move came a day after the Illinois General Assembly approved the bill that is estimated to save the state $160 billion over the next 30 years.
The plan reduces benefits for current and retired public employees. Among other things, it also raises the retirement age on a sliding scale for some employees.
Another legislative session has gone by without a solution in place to bring down the amount Illinois owes the state's retirement systems. Given the clamoring from the governor, business leaders and credit rating agencies for lawmakers to do something about it, legislators mentioned relatively little about pensions before adjourning from their fall veto session last week ... which may well be a sign that something is afoot; there's talk of legislators returning before the year's end to deal with pensions.
Illinois legislators may have passed a pension overhaul, but unions representing teachers and public employees have vowed to sue to stop it from taking effect. If they're successful, that could force lawmakers to go back to the drawing board.
Lawmakers made preemptive efforts to fend off a legal challenge. The measure contains a statement that details the terrible condition of Illinois' finances and what lawmakers have tried to do about it -- a clear attempt to justify cutting pension benefits.
A major overhaul of Illinois' pensions is now law. Gov. Pat Quinn held a private bill-signing ceremony this afternoon in Chicago. A court challenge seeking to stop it from taking effect is certain.
The new law will cut state workers' and public school teachers' retirement benefits.
It also raises the retirement age; employees younger than 46 will have to work up to five years longer before they can retire. The savings from those changes are intended to rid Illinois of a long-festering budget issue: an unfunded pension liability that's grown to about $100 billion.