Cullerton unveils pension proposal

May 6, 2013

Senate President John Cullerton's office has released the first official outline of the pension proposal he negotiated with unions. IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has a rundown.

  Having unions on board with lawmakers' efforts to cut the state's pension costs would be huge. It's hoped to cut down on the lawsuits likely to follow any pension legislation.

Or at the very least, legislators could have an easier time voting for it without fear of retribution come campaign time. A coalition of labor leaders have been negotiating the plan with Senate President John Cullerton. It relies on a legal principle he's long advocated, known as "consideration."

The theory is, Illinois wouldn't be breaking its constitutional guarantee not to diminish employees' retirement benefits if workers themselves break the contract.

The legislation would give state employees, teachers and university workers a choice. Keep their current pension benefit plan would require they give something up like access to state-backed health care, or paying more into their retirement benefits.

Or they could agree to giving up annual, cost of living pension bumps in exchange for keeping access to insurance. The choices for employees already retired are less stark. It's unclear how Cullerton's plan will fare.

The House has already voted on a different pension plan, which Speaker Mike Madigan insisted is best, and will save Illinois the most money.