News Local/State

Pension Prospects?


Lawmakers haven't touched state pension benefits in the nearly year-and-a-half since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled their last attempt unconstitutional. But Governor Bruce Rauner says he's "pretty excited." He thinks they will pass a new law this winter.

"I think we can come to a ... important solution to fund our pension structure. Again: Protect existing benefits, but put in place new options that are more affordable that employees can choose among, with their own choice, their own options. That's both fair as well as constitutional," Rauner said Tuesday during a Facebook Live stream. "I think it's important to come up with more creative options that employees can chose among, that may be more affordable in the long run.”

The governor says that would save the state billions it can instead spend on other needs.

Rauner, a Republican, says there a "number of ideas on the table."

Gov. Rauner continues to embrace a concept introduced by Senate President John Cullerton which would give workers a choice in how they want their benefits package to be reduced. But unions say that's illegal, and Democratic lawmakers aren't keen on moving forward with the budget and other issues at impasse.

Still there's an incentive for Chicago legislators to get on board. A pension overhaul is a condition for Chicago Public Schools getting millions of dollars the district needs.

The city of Chicago is also proposing changes to its own pension fund, which require the governor and General Assembly's approval.