House Committee To Take Up Pension Reform

The doors are closing for an overhaul of Illinois’ pensions.  But key legislators say it’s still possible to cut a deal before Wednesday, when a new legislature is sworn in.  Amanda Vinicky has more.

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Illinois’ underfunded pension systems have been THE issue for years.

Today could be pivotal in determining if this General Assembly will do anything to cut down the state’s costs … or if it’ll be a burden left to the incoming legislature.  A committee’s scheduled to take up a proposal that would reduce state employees’ benefits, while at the same time requiring they pay more toward retirement.

House Speaker Mike Madigan explains why it’s difficult for legislators – who depend on unions’ campaign donations – to support changing the pension system:

MADIGAN: “If someone were to be saying ‘dear recipient of Social Security, that expectation you had on payments? That’s going to come down.’  What do you think would happen nationwide?”

Another difficulty, says Democratic Representative Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook, is that there’s no immediate consequence for inaction – as with the federal government’s end-of-year fiscal cliff.

NEKRITZ: “We’re on a slope, but we never face a cliff.  It’s in a lot of ways easier to just continue sliding than to it is to solve it … but we have to get there.”

But even if the House were to get there, the Senate has to do the same. And that could be a steep hill to climb.

I’m Amanda Vinicky.

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