Illinois Passes Pension Reform

Both the Illinois House and Senate narrowly passed a measure that addresses Illinois' out of control pension problems. See how local legislators voted.

After years of dithering, Illinois senators and representatives took a step forward Tuesday in solving the $100 million pension problem that has bedeviled the state, its finances and its credit rating. The state Senate passed the measure 30-24, and the House passed it 62-53—all in one afternoon.

The deal will save $160 billion over 30 years, and reduce the state's payments for pensions by about $1.5 billion a year, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. 

It does so by curtailing cost-of-living increases for pensioners, who include suburban teachers and retired state workers. It also raises retirement ages for younger workers. 

For that reason, several sources said, labor unions may mount a legal challenge to it. 

Illinois' pension crisis is considered the worst in the nation, reports chicago.cbslocal.com, because for years lawmakers diverted money elsewhere and did not make full payments into the funds. 

How local representatives voted:

  • Rep. Deb Conroy (D-Elmhurst): Yes
  • Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Westmont): Yes
  • Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst): Yes
  • Rep. Sandra Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn): No
  • Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale): No
  • Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park): No
Questions about the constitutionality of the pension reform proposal and a lack of public vetting forced Dillard’s “no” vote, according to a press release from his office.

Lawmakers were shown the legislation the day before the vote, Dillard said, giving a majority of policymakers limited time to review the more than 300-page bill. 

“Considering the limited time most legislators had to analyze this legislation, it was impossible to thoroughly evaluate and understand the measure,” Dillard said. “This legislation will not only affect hundreds of thousands of retired teachers and state employees, but its impact will span generations. I understand that pension reform is absolutely necessary if Illinois is going to dig itself out of its fiscal hole, but rushing this process is not in the best interest of the retirees we’re ultimately trying to protect.”

The senator also expressed concerns about how the reported $160 billion in savings achieved through the measure would be spent.

“Neither the House speaker, Senate president, nor the governor have demonstrated the budgetary discipline needed to reduce the state’s multibillion-dollar bill backlog or limit spending in order to allow the tax increase to expire as they promised,” Dillard said. “Knowing this, without assurance that the savings will be used prudently, I hesitate to free-up billions of additional dollars that they can use to further expand entitlement programs or subsidize more pet projects at the expense of our retired teachers, state workers and law enforcement officers.”

See how other Representatives voted here.
Click here for the Senate roll call.

NancyC December 04, 2013 at 07:37 AM
Pam, Deb Conroy is not a republican but you have her listed as one. Thanks be to God we'll be out of this state soon.
Jim R December 04, 2013 at 11:01 AM
Seems to me there is nothing to cheer, as this bill is hardly a good solution to the problem. It totally ignores the bloated pensions that many are and will continue to receive. The clause in the constitution about benefits needs to be removed as it did not belong there. If contracts are negotiated, reducing bloated pensions should be an option. So now you have tax payers struggling to retire at any age, but many government workers and teachers who receive excessive pensions being paid by many who cannot afford to retire still must pay. Cuts should be made to anyone receiving excessive pensions.
Pat December 04, 2013 at 11:08 AM
"The clause in the constitution about benefits needs to be removed as it did not belong there". Excuse me, yes it does belong there!! As a retired teacher, unlike the many superintendents in the State who have bloated pensions, I do NOT expect anyone to alter my menial pension. I contributed faithfully for years and years and NO ONE has the authority to change my well-earned pension. I have checked the politicians who have voted YES for this reform, and I will certainly remember their names come election time because I will vote NO on the ballot for any of their re-elections.
Jim Johston December 04, 2013 at 01:40 PM
I think voters should be given a choice - either raise taxes so that all these pensions can be paid, or change the constitution so that the pensions can be modified. That way we avoid any potential lawsuits and the voters can decide what is truly "fair". I know which way I would vote...
Karen Chadra (Editor) December 04, 2013 at 03:06 PM
NancyC - Correction noted. Deb Conroy is a Democrat.
Jim R December 04, 2013 at 04:03 PM
A contract is negotiated where benefits are debated, so a protection in the constitution should not be there unless you want to freeze all future raises. I am not opposed to pensions but those over $200,000 a year should be reduced as they are extreme. Additionally any pension over $100,000 a year should be reviewed for the amount to be reduced. I made no mention of menial pensions as those are another matter, but where some are receiving multiple pensions from the state they should be made to select one with a maximum to be instituted. The pension reviews for politicians should be the first to be reviewed. One ex governor who receives more than one pension is somewhere over $300,000. The highest pension is over $500,000 to a retired doctor. Specific budget issues should not be in a constitution especially when it is one sided.
Jim R December 04, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Jim Johston, they already increased our taxes to cover some of the pension problems, but matters have only gotten worse. Personally, the gutless congress should be taking steps to remove the benefit issue from the constitution. We are one if not the worst state in the USA in terms of budgets. Apparently Obama went to Washington with the same approach, spend money whether we have the funds or not. For some complaining about the little action taken so far is that another outcome is bankruptcy in which all pensions would be subject to a default which is not fair to those who worked and were given a reasonable pension.
Pat December 04, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Yes, Elmhurst School Dist 205's Superintendent is a retired Superintendent from Michigan. "Double dipping"......retire in one state and move to another and collect, collect, and collect. Shameful!
Jim R December 04, 2013 at 04:21 PM
In Illinois it is worse as the ex governor is collecting from the same state, but different divisions. Can anyone name an Illinois governor that is worth a $20,000 pension? Seems many collect room and board, but maybe some have found a better way to take from us.


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