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|Pension Amendment Advances Through IL House Committee
|(IRN)-Illinois is in tough shape financially, and the state's pension systems often get the blame. The legislature is working on a way to make it harder to boost public pensions. An Illinois House committee has advanced a measure that would have the state's voters determine if that's what they want. The proposal is a constitutional amendment that would make it a three-fifths majority, as opposed to a simple majority, to increase payments or otherwise expand pensions.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, the sponsor of the amendment, says increasing the benefits should meet a higher threshold. "We now know, given the fiscal condition of the state pension systems and the local systems, that this is an extraordinary situation," he said. "This is not something that should be handled in the ordinary course. There oughta be a high bar to move these bills."
Illinois currently faces about an $80 billion unfunded pension liability. The legislature is trying to stop the bleeding; last year it passed a second tier of pension benefits for new hires, effective this year. It raised the retirement age from 65 to 67 and capped maximum benefits, among other reforms.
The House and Senate would have to approve the amendment before it could go to voters in the next state election, in 2012. Illinois Education Association lobbyist Will Lovett is against the resolution, saying such a constraint may encourage prospective teachers to live somewhere else. "Given that Illinois now has the highest retirement age in the nation, especially comparing ourselves to our neighboring states, will students that graduate that want to go into teaching or want to go into the educational field want to stay in the state of Illinois?"
Other labor unions also oppose the resolution.
(Source: Illinois Radio Network)
|01 05 11 by Newsroom
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