Peoria Public Radio Staff
Peoria Public Radio News
Fri March 1, 2013
IL lawmakers struggling with pension overhaul
It was billed as a "day of pensions" in the Illinois House. But it turned into about a half-hour's worth. IPR’s Brian Mackey has more on why Illinois lawmakers are having such a hard time confronting the state's 100-billion-dollar problem.
There were four proposals, each more harsh than what's been discussed in other pension overhauls. One would have eliminated cost-of-living raises for pensioners. Another would have increased the retirement age to 67. None of the ideas did well, but that one got just a single "yes" vote -- from House Speaker Michael Madigan, who engineered the debate, and incidentally is already past that retirement age.
Republicans complained this was just gamesmanship -- not a real attempt to solve the problem. But, Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook defended the process. She's one of the Democrats' top pension negotiators, and says now that it's clear what lawmakers won’t support, they need to say what they will. "We all need to find something we're for, and each of you has to engage in that process of getting to yes." Nekritz, the House Republican leader and more than two dozen other lawmakers came out with a pension plan this week. But she says it doesn't yet have enough votes to pass.