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lllinois Senate OKs Union-Backed Pension Deal

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Senate has approved a union-supported pension reform bill. But the measure faces an uncertain future in the House, where lawmakers passed a competing proposal last week. 

The Senate voted 40-16 Thursday to advance the measure sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton.  The Chicago Democrat's plan would give workers and retirees a choice in retirement benefits. He says it's the only approach to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis that will hold up in court. But House Speaker Michael Madigan prefers his plan, which he says could save the state three times more money than Cullerton's proposal. 

Gov. Pat Quinn also wants Madigan's pension-reform plan to be brought to a Senate vote.   The Democratic governor said Madigan's proposal is comprehensive.   The House approved the Madigan bill last week. It would require employees to pay 2 percent more toward retirement benefits. It would reduce annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and raise the retirement age for workers under 45.

Public-employee unions have said they will file a lawsuit if Madigan's bill is enacted. They say it violates a clause in the state constitution that says pension benefits can't be reduced. 

 

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