Statehouse
1:03 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Pension Deal Reached; Vote Likely Next Week

Credit Wikimedia Commons

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the vote on a pension deal will be ``very difficult'' when lawmakers gather for a special session next week.  
Madigan spoke to reporters Wednesday after legislative leaders said they agreed on a proposal that will help solve Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.  

The Chicago Democrat says the proposal will save roughly $160 billion over 30 years. It includes pushing back the retirement age. Madigan says the plan would replace the current 3 percent annual compounded cost-of-living increase that retirees receive with one that is equal to the inflation rate.

That's instead of cutting the increase to half the inflation rate, which was a sticking point.  
Madigan says he reached out to leaders in final days to forge the agreement.  
Lawmakers are expected Tuesday in Springfield.

The state's pension crisis, deemed the nation's worst, comes after lawmakers have shorted or skipped payments to its public pension funds for decades.  
Both the House and Senate are being called back to meet in Springfield Dec. 3.

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A spokeswoman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says members are being asked to return to Springfield next week to vote on a newly inked deal to solve the state's pension crisis.  

Rikeesha Phelon said in an email Wednesday that Cullerton supports the plan to address Illinois' $100 billion unfunded pension liability. He's asking senators to be at the Capitol Tuesday.  
Cullerton is a Chicago Democrat. He previously had promoted a solution that didn't cut state employee benefits as much as a rival House plan.  

Labor unions almost surely will oppose the agreement. They prefer the original plan championed by Cullerton earlier this year.

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Governor Pat Quinn issued the below statement regarding today's agreement among the legislative leaders on a comprehensive pension reform solution:

“I commend the legislative leaders – Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin – for their hard work to reach this critical agreement. I also commend members of the conference committee for their work throughout the summer and fall to get us to this point.

“When I proposed the creation of a conference committee in June, I asked members to draft a plan that eliminated the unfunded pension debt and fully stabilized the systems, and this plan meets that standard.

“We have more work to do. I look forward to working with the leaders and members of the General Assembly over the coming days to get this job done for the people of Illinois.”