Madigan Pension Overhaul Headed to House Floor

May 1, 2013

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago)

The Illinois House is poised to vote Thursday on an overhaul of the state's pension systems. It would reduce state workers', teachers', and university employees' future retirement benefits. The plan easily advanced out of a House committee Wednesday morning. 

There's a feeling in the capitol that after countless attempts to reduce the state's pension debt, this may be it. Insiders say it's significant that the plan's sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan — who rarely takes action without having support locked up. 

It also leaves out controversial aspects of prior plans, like requiring school districts to begin paying teachers' retirement costs. Madigan says he'll push for that in a separate proposal this spring.

This measure is designed to cut the state's pension costs by requiring employees to work more years, for a lesser retirement benefit. Even so, Madigan says Illinois should not count on the expected savings as lawmakers prepare a new state budget.

MADIGAN: "Because we expect a court challenge, the unions were so kind as to tell today that they're going to challenge it."

Union leaders say it unfairly cuts some workers' future pension benefits by a third.

The big question over this proposal is how it'll fare in the Senate. President John Cullerton has backed a different approach. But Madigan says he's moving ahead with Cullerton's "direction and consent."