State lawmakers approve pension reform plan


On Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois General Assembly approved an overhaul of the state government worker pension system.

According to media outlets, the House of Representatives voted 62-53 to approve the measure, with a minimum of 60 votes needed for it to pass. The Senate also narrowly approved the measure 30-24.

Since it was approved, the measure now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn, who intends to sign it.

Illinois currently has a pension debt of $100 billion, and this measure was passed in the hopes of reducing that debt.

The pension reform plan has been “strongly opposed” by employee unions who are not as agreeable to the method of requiring workers to retire later and reducing and skipping cost-of-living increases.

If signed into law, the plan would push back the retirement age for workers ages 45 and younger, on a sliding scale. The annual 3 percent cost-of-living increases for retirees would be replaced with a system that only provides increases on a portion of benefits, based on how many years a beneficiary was in their job. Some workers would have the option of freezing their pension and starting a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

Workers will contribute 1 percent less to their own retirement under the plan.

Several unions have vowed to take legal action in lieu of the decision, saying parts of the bill are unconstitutional and unfair to workers.

According to an Associated Press article, Illinois legislative leaders have said the measure will save the state $160 billion over 30 years and fully fund the systems by 2044.

Statewide, this measure will have an effect on several systems and hundreds of employees, including prison workers, teachers and university employees.

State Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) has been opposed to reducing retirement benefits for the workers, and said last week he would vote “no” because he believes changing pension benefits is unconstitutional.

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