Illinois Senate Approves Pension Plan on Second Try

March 21, 2013

The Illinois Senate has approved on a second vote Senate President John Cullerton's proposal overhauling teacher pensions.

Minutes earlier senators rejected the plan; it was shy one vote to pass.  Cullerton used a parliamentary procedure to recall the bill. The second vote Wednesday was 30-22. 

All East Central Illinois senators voted the measure down.

Cullerton's amended plan addresses the Teachers' Retirement System and is estimated to save up to $40 billion over the next 30 years. It also offers employees a choice on whether they want retirement health care or reduced annual cost-of-living increases.

Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said it'll save the state between 18 and 44 billion dollars over the long term.  While opponents say that's not enough, Cullerton says it meets a more important test.

“it’s constitutional," he said.  "It has the strongest argument for being constitutional.  And if were were to pass a bill that’s unconstitutional it would be a year before we’d find that out and we would have lost a year of savings.”

Opponents say the plan doesn't go far enough in addressing Illinois' pension crisis. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability.

Earlier in the day senators rejected a total overhaul sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss.

Story source: AP