Illinois House passes pension measure

Mar 21, 2013

Illinois legislators have yet again done what was long unthinkable, the House Thursday passed a measure reducing state employees' and teachers' retirement benefits.   IPR’s Amanda Vinicky has more: 


  The legislation seeks to reduce the highest driver of the state's burgeoning pensions costs: the compounded, 3-percent cost of living adjustments retirees receive every year.

 "My friends I will tell you I don't call it a cost of living adjustment.  I call it an automatic increase."

 That's Republican Representative David Harris, of Arlington Heights, who says it's an increase Illinois cannot afford.Under the proposal, retirees would have to wait until they're 67 to receive a cost-of-living bump, and it caps the size of the COLAs.While supporters say it'll make the biggest dent cutting down Illinois' nearly 100 billion dollar pension debt ... for critics, the attempt's futile.  They say it's unconstitutional.  The state's constitution says pension benefits can't be diminished. This is the third, major pension overhaul approved in the House, and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan says it's a sign legislators are close to "finalizing" a comprehensive solution.But signs from the Senate indicate just the opposite.Democrats in the Senate have so far taken an entirely different approach, and just voted down a proposal containing the provisions that passed the House.