News Local/State

Leaders Reach Pension Deal; Now Drumming Up Votes


The leaders of Illinois' General Assembly have reached a deal on pensions, but now they have to persuade legislators to go along with it. The House and Senate will meet in Springfield Tuesday, Dec. 3 to debate the measure.

It's the first time the four leaders of the House and Senate have come together on a plan dealing with the state's pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation. Details are forthcoming, but House Speaker Michael Madigan came out of a meeting in Chicago saying it will save $160 billion.

That comes in part by mostly doing away with the annual, compounded, three-percent cost-of-living increases retirees receive now. Instead, state workers, public school teachers and university employees will see their pensions tied to inflation.

In exchange for losing those benefits, workers will have slightly less taken out of their paychecks for pensions -- a decrease of one percentage point.

It's not yet clear how many lawmakers will vote for it.

"We're going to go to work and we're going to start calling our members to persuade them to vote for the bill," Madigan said in a Chicago Sun-Times video.

Already, there's pushback. Some lawmakers say it goes too far -- unions are slamming it as unconstitutional; others say it doesn't go far enough.

The plan is also said to raise the retirement age, at least for younger workers who are earlier in their government careers. And it includes an option for a 401-k style retirement plan.

In a statement, Gov. Pat Quinn praised the package, saying it would meet his goal of eliminating the state's $100 billion long-term pension debt.