Senate Committee Passes Union-Backed Pension PlanA Senate committee has approved a union-backed approach for addressing Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
The Senate Executive Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday to send the proposal to the Senate floor. It could get a floor vote Thursday.
The measure gives workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages. For example, workers who want to receive 3 percent cost-of-living increases compounded annually wouldn't get health insurance. Retirees could choose to keep their health insurance if they freeze their COLA for two years. Senate President John Cullerton says the plan was drafted in collaboration with public-employee unions and would survive a court challenge. Critics say the bill doesn't save enough money.
However, at least one union impacted by the pension legislation is not on board. Bob Pinkerton, with the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, says both the Senate and the House plans are unconstitutional. "It is our view and our attorney views that this is an unconstutional bill, perhaps not as unconstitional as Senate Bill 1 as amended, but is there is a degree of constitutionality? I don't think so. It either is or it isn't. And this isn't in our opinion," said Pinkerton.
The House version of pension reform would require workers to give more toward their pensions, retire later, and accept a reduced raise in retirement. The House bill has already passed.
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