Sweeping pension changes go to the House floor

May 29, 2012

State and university employees and public school teachers will have to accept lower cost-of-living adjustments in retirement or see future pay increases not count toward pensions under  sweeping changes to the state pension system approved this morning by an Illinois House committee

Employees who don't accept the reduced retirement package also will lose access to state healthcare after they retire.

The proposal would gradually shift the cost of pensions for public school teachers and university employees away from the state and onto school districts and universities. House Republicans argued unsuccessfully to have the cost shift removed from the legislation.

Opponents say that will result in property tax increases and tuition hikes, but House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, says it's not right that the state has to pick up the tab for a group of workers for whom it has no say in salary.

"There's a concept in America that we all strive to live under, which is called responsibility. Responsibility for our actions," Madigan said. "And when one person can spend money and send the bill to somebody else, that's not responsible, that's not responsibility. That's un-American."

The measure now goes to the House floor ... and it appears Democrats have the legislation on a fast track.