CFL News
January 23, 2013

Pension reform still on the table

Members of the Illinois General Assembly look to tackle the growing pension debt obligation during this year's session


Illinois lawmakers are discussing a number of proposals that would reform the pension system for public employees throughout the state. Most of the proposals call for slashing benefits and raising the retirement age in order to make up for decades of mismanagement that is the cause of the current crisis.

“The governor and these legislative leaders, when they’re talking about ‘shared sacrifice,’ they’re talking about employees and retirees,” said AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer. “They’re not talking about anyone else.”

According to the state’s own Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), insufficient employer contributions are the biggest cause of underfunding the pension plans.

In December, the We Are One Illinois coalition released a detailed critique of the measures pushed by Governor Pat Quinn and leaders in the General Assembly as well as an alternative plan that is constitutional and fair to public employees while providing additional funding for vital public services.

The alternative plan proposed would put in place an ironclad guarantee that the state would pay its share into pension funds. The union coalition also pressed to eliminate $2 billion in corporate tax loopholes to provide revenue to support critical services and operations. In return for a guarantee from the state to fully fund pensions, public employees would pay 2 percent more on a phased-in basis toward their pensions.

“The workers in Illinois want a real pension solution and we invite the state's political leaders to work with us in finding real solutions that can be enacted soon,” said Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers at a press conference announcing the proposal.  “There is no doubt that a long-term pension solution is a long-term fiscal solution and that must involve truly shared sacrifice.”

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