Madigan Proposes Illinois Pension Changes


Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is proposing a comprehensive pension-reform package that caps the salary on which a pension can be based and limits annual cost-of-living increases.

The Chicago Democrat filed an amendment Tuesday to legislation that got Senate approval last month. Madigan plans a House committee hearing Wednesday.

The plan tweaks ideas proposed by Rep. Elaine Nekritz - Madigan's leader on fixing a $96 billion pension deficit - and House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

It would cap the total annual salary on which a pension could be based to $110,000. That's less than the $113,000 Social Security guideline originally proposed.

And instead of tying annual cost-of-living increases to $25,000, it would allow COLAs based on $1,000 per year of service.

The plan would also take pensions out of union contract negotiations.  

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said she hopes it's a sign lawmakers are on track to solving Illinois' pension problem.

"I'm encouraged that we have another comprehensive bill in front of us, that draws from a lot of different ideas, which I think is a positive," she said.  "I don't know how this will go through process-wise.  Because of course this has just been filed in the House, which means it needs to get through committee there, needs to pass the House and then it needs to come to the Senate.  So we're a long way from resolution."

Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) who's been a leader on pension issues, said Madigan's measure will get Illinois where it needs to be.

"I'm thrilled about that, because I think it's, you know, a very strong statement as to his support for a comprehensive reform bill," she said.

Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, said he and Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches'' to solving the pension crisis.

Story source: AP