Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Republicans Balk At Pension Cost Shift
Supporters of pension reform legislation approved by a House committee Tuesday said they want to see the bill called for floor vote. However, some Republicans said that they cannot support a bill that would push costs onto local school districts that have been coping with state budget cuts.
Under the latest plan, state employees and others would have to choose between trading their current cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for less generous increases that would not kick in for five years after retirement or until age 67, or keeping their current COLAs but losing access to state health insurance. Union officials said the bill violates a constitutional protection of pension benefits. Another part of the measure, however, would require school districts outside of Chicago to pick up the state’s portion of pension costs moving forward with the change phased in gradually.
Minority Leader Tom Cross accused House Speaker Michael Madigan of inserting the “poison pill” of the cost shift in the bill to kill it because he says Madigan wants to stall on scaling pensions back for teachers until after the November election. “The biggest issue of the day, the biggest liability the state’s ever seen — we’re on the verge of getting it done, and he says: ‘No more. I’ve got a different idea. Take it or leave it.’”
Republicans tried to remove the pension shift but Democrats used House rules to block them. Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat, said that reducing the amount the state must spend on pensions would ease pressure on Illinois’ strained budget and free up money to spend in other areas, such as education and human services. “With this change, we can move away from being a financial laughing stock,”
You can read Jamey's full report at: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/republicans-balk-at-pension-cost-shift.html