Union-Backed Pension Plan Awaits Senate Vote

May 9, 2013

Credit Illinois.gov

Democrats in the Illinois Senate are advancing a plan to overhaul the state's underfunded pension systems. It would give a choice to state workers, teachers, and university employees. If they agree to reduced cost-of-living increases, they'll get to keep access to state health insurance after they retire. It would also make future salary increases count toward their retirement.

The deal was negotiated with labor unions ... but not everyone is on board. Bob Pinkerton is with the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. He says retirees should not have to pick between cost-of-living increases and state subsidized health insurance:

"It is our opinion that a choice where it's kind of like jump off a cliff or I'll shoot you is not much of a choice," Pinkerton said.

Pinkerton says his group might sue if the proposal becomes law.

Michael Carrigan is president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He says unions agreed to support this proposal because it respects the Illinois Constitution's provision that government pensions "shall not be diminished."

It passed out of a Senate committee on a party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.