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Illinois Passes Historic Pension Reform

Both the Illinois House and Senate narrowly passed a measure that addresses Illinois' out-of-control pension problems, spreading out the pain.

Written by Pam DeFiglio. Korrina Grom contributed to this report.

After years of dithering, Illinois senators and representatives took a momentous step forward Tuesday in solving the $100 million pension problem that has bedeviled the state, its finances, and its credit rating.

The state Senate passed the measure 30-24, and the House passed it 62-53, the Chicago Tribune reports—all in one afternoon.

The deal will save $160 billion over 30 years, and reduce the state's payments for pensions by about $1.5 billion a year, reports the Chicago Sun-Times

It does so by curtailing cost-of-living increases for pensioners, who include suburban teachers and retired state workers. It also raises retirement ages for younger workers. 

For that reason, several sources said, labor unions may mount a legal challenge to it. 

Illinois' pension crisis is considered the worst in the nation, reports chicago.cbslocal.com, because for years lawmakers diverted money elsewhere and did not make full payments into the funds.

State Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) voted against the bill.

“As you know, I have been a strong supporter of pension reform efforts that are fair to retirees. But this bill simply does not give the necessary consideration to the human component of pension reform," said Bush. "It forces reductions to the anticipated life savings of current retirees that are so severe that many people fear their financial future. I am unwilling to support something that could ruin people’s lives.  

"Ultimately, with a pension reform bill this unfair to retirees, we will be right back where we started once the courts have weighed in," she added.

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