Illinois House Committee Approves Pension Plan Introduced By Speaker

May 1, 2013

House Speaker Mike Madigan

UPDATE: 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.

Original story: There's a new pension proposal before the Illinois General Assembly. The plan House Speaker Mike Madigan has introduced would require state workers, teachers and university employees under the age of 45 to work longer until they could get full retirement benefits.   It reduces cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.

And it would take pensions out of union contract negotiations.  

Representative Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, has been a leader on pension issues. She says Madigan's measure will get Illinois where it needs to be.

"I'm thrilled about that, because I think it's a very strong statement as to his support for a comprehensive reform bill." -Rep. Elaine Nekritz

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno says she hopes it's a sign lawmakers are on track to solving Illinois' pension problem.

 "I'm encouraged that we have another comprehensive bill in front of us, that draws from a lot of different ideas, which I think is a positive. I don't know how this will go through process-wise.  Because of course this has just been filed in the House, which means it needs to get through committee there, needs to pass the House and then it needs to come to the Senate.  So we're a long way from resolution." -Senator Christine Radogno

But Senate President John Cullerton could be a hold out.  He's been in talks with labor leaders, and his spokeswoman hinted that Madigan's plan won't fare well in the Senate.  Cullerton has backed a different approach that would make retirees choose between continuing to get state-subsidized health care or an annual, compounding 3-percent COLA.

Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.