Illinois pensions

State Lawmakers Discuss Rauner's Power Over Pensions

Mar 10, 2016
Brian Mackey

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to let Governor Bruce Rauner reduce or delay pension payments.

The measure would give the governor the power to make unilateral cuts and reallocate money around state government.

Rauner's budget director says the governor would rather get a bipartisan deal -- including pension changes -- instead of going it alone.

Senate President John Cullerton has a pension proposal Rauner supports. But Cullerton says his legislation is not a quick fix for the state's massive pension liability.

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals, but it seemed like there was a small oasis: an agreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

They say Illinois could save a billion dollars a year by forcing teachers and state workers to make a choice. Either retire on a higher pensionable salary, or be allowed to receive compounded cost-of-living bumps upon retirement.

During his budget address last week, though, Rauner signaled impatience:

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers.

In a unanimous decision, the high court says lawmakers overstepped their power when they sought to cut pension benefits for state employees, university workers and public school teachers.

Illinois pensions are protected by the state Constitution, but the state argued a financial emergency meant those protections could be disregarded.

Democrats Push For Pension Plan Details

Apr 14, 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less-generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge any time soon is a “fantasy."

Pension Overhaul In Hands Of State Supreme Court

Mar 11, 2015
Illinois Supreme Court

Oral arguments on whether state law passed in 2013 will stand were held Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court. 

The law reduces benefits for public employees like teachers, prison guards and many others.

State-employee unions object, citing a section of the state constitution -- Article VIII Section 5 -- which they say clearly prevents the state from taking such action.

Illinois Solicitor General Carolyn Shapiro, representing the state, disagrees.