Pensions
7:00 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Pension Solution Eludes Top Democrats ... Still

Even as the legislative session winds down -- its last day is Friday -- there's no agreement on a solution to the state's pension problem.   

Credit Amanda Vinicky

It's not like the problem came out of nowhere.  The $100 billion dollars of unfunded liability accumulated over decades.

And legislators have been talking about what to do about it for years.   Especially this session.

The House and Senate each passed legislation to cut Illinois' costs by reducing state employees and teachers' retirement benefits.  But both measures are stalled in the opposite chamber.

Cullerton says he'll meet with Senate Democrats today to discuss their limited possibilities.

"I want to pass a bill, to get a bill passed. I've been saying that right from the start.  I've had all these different options," he says. 

It could come down to a game of legislative chicken between Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Despite the impass, Cullerton says "there's no frayed relationship with the Speaker."

Cullerton says he and the Speaker continue to talk about other issues, like during an hour-and-a-half-long meeting yesterday.  

Madigan's pension plan saves more money, while Cullerton's proposal has union backing.  He also says it's more likely to hold up in court. 

There may be action Thursday on a related pension matter.  The Speaker wants schools and universities to begin paying for their employees' retirement benefits, which are now covered by the state.  A morning hearing is scheduled for a plan that would shift the employers' share of pensions costs to state universities.