Pensions - WUIS Special Coverage

Below are the latest stories on the pension issue in Illinois.  

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to battle Democrats in Springfield, he's also battling them in Chicago. Rauner on Sunday upped the rhetoric against the city's mayor.

There was a time that Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel vacationed together.

But Rauner's most recent comments about Emanuel were anything but friendly.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

As the clock ticks down on the General Assembly, lawmakers are struggling to avoid the debacle of public schools not opening in the fall. But they’re having a tough time coming up with a school funding formula that pleases both parties.

Amanda Vinicky

It's been a year since the state Supreme Court found Illinois' big pension law unconstitutional, and an attempt to get a new law passed is stalled.

Lawmakers' goal is to reduce the state's expenses for its vastly underfunded pensions.

The court says it's illegal to do it by reducing an employees' retirement benefits.

Senate President John Cullerton and Governor Bruce Rauner think they have a way around that.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Republicans are making an offer to get money to social services agencies that have gone three-quarters of the year without any state funding.

Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state, says Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

A pair of Illinois Supreme Court rulings this week are a mixed bag for government employees. The justices struck down a law intended to reduce benefits for Chicago city employees, but also found that AFSCME members cannot be paid bargained-for raises unless the General Assembly specifically authorizes the spending.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday struck down another attempt to control the cost of government pension benefits.

This time it was Chicago city employees and retirees whose pensions were being targeted. The retirement system for one set of workers is projected to be insolvent in about a decade.

In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly changed the rules, but in Thursday's 5-0 ruling, the Supreme Court found that unconstitutional.

Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey spoke with his colleague Amanda Vinicky about the decision.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

It’s been 10 months since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s last attempt at a pension overhaul. Legislators have yet to decide what to do about Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt, but they are beginning to weigh their options.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Doing something about Illinois' underfunded retirement systems remains an immediate goal for Gov. Bruce Rauner but despite a loose agreement with a leading Democrat, that plan has stalled.

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals but it seemed like there was a small oasis -- an agreement between Gov. Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

Governor Bruce Rauner gave his second annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.  Doug Finke of the State Journal-Register joins the panel.

ilga.gov

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he's open to considering a new pension overhaul and is ``anxious'' to see legislation. 

Brian Mackey/WUIS

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will give his second annual State of the State address at noon Wednesday. After a year of stalemate, he's expected to make some effort to bridge a bipartisan divide.

In the year since the governor first laid out his agenda for the state, none of it has passed. Rauner has been unequivocal. Despite Democrats' resistance, and pressure on groups demanding a budget, he's not dropping his controversial prescription for a so-called "turnaround."

"We're not going to back down on it, we're not going to give in on it," he said Monday.

Talks on fixing the state pension debt resumed, but Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton can't seem to agree on what they agreed to and Rauner declared contract negotiations with AFSCME at an impasse.  Also this week, the governor announced his support for the state taking over the entire Chicago Public Schools system.  Meanwhile, Illinois higher education continues to go unfunded.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

WUIS

A new pension plan introduced Thursday by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner as a bipartisan deal immediately crashed and burned. 

This week, a look back at the past year in Illinois state government and politics.  WUIS News Director Sean Crawford and Illinois Issues Editor Jamey Dunn join the panel.

npr.org

  Even with all of its fiscal troubles Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue. Legislative leaders and the governor may finally be poised to begin talking about how they may be able to reduce costs.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois Supreme Court is taking on another pension case, six months after justices unanimously tossed out the state's landmark pension law. Tuesday they heard arguments as to whether a law affecting thousands of City of Chicago employees is constitutional or not.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' lack of a budget means public pension systems won't get their state contribution next month. That won't stop retirees from getting their checks. However, there could still be an impact.

Leslie Munger at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois won't make its next pension payment; Comptroller Leslie Munger Wednesday announced she can't, because the state doesn't have the cash.

Amanda Vinicky

Another lawsuit over a pension law was filed this week in Illinois, this time seeking to strike a law that reduced Chicago Park District pensions. That could be significant for other local governments, and future negotiations.

When it first passed, the park district pension law was seen as a possible model for future ones, in part because it had been drafted in cooperation with SEIU, the union representing park district workers.

Amanda Vinicky

The U.S. Supreme Court will not get the last word on Illinois’ attempts to cut government pension costs; a 2013 pension law is dead, for good. There'd been a slim possibility the law would have another big day in court.

Il. Supreme Court website - state.il.us/court

Illinois may not be done with the 2013 law reducing state employees’ pensions after all. The Attorney General appears to be readying to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

In the midst of a budget stalemate, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he's re-introducing his five-point agenda, with some changes. The Republican is also putting out a new pension plan.

Zach Bernard

New ways to tackle Illinois' underfunded pension systems could be emerging, as the Republican governor appears to be backing away from his plan.

There's good reason many lawmakers are feeling flummoxed. Illinois' budget is already sagging. And with last week's state Supreme Court decision tossing a major pension law, the deficit is larger still.

The court decision was unequivocal - it's not constitutional to cut state employees' retirement benefits.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Even though John Cullerton went along with the pension law that on Friday was found by the state's high court to be unconstitutional, the Illinois Senate President had always favored another approach. Now he's saying (well, not exactly in these exact words ... ) "I told you so." In this episode of The Players -- a podcast about who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to -- Amanda Vinicky spoke with the Senate's top Democrat about his plans to try again.

Amanda Vinicky

Credit ratings agencies have had swift reactions to Friday's state Supreme Court decision that found Illinois' 2013 pension law unconstitutional.

Illinois' was expecting to save billions by reducing state workers, teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits. But not anymore, thanks to an unanimous decision by the state's high court tossing the law.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says the Illinois Supreme Court's decision striking down the state's public pension overhaul was ``fair and right.''  

The Republican governor says he has long believed that the 2013 law aimed at reducing a $111 billion shortfall was unconstitutional.  

That was the view of the justices who unanimously ruled against it Friday. They said the measure violated the state constitution because it would leave pension promises ``diminished or impaired.''  

(This story first appeared on the Illinois Issues blog last summer that appeared to set the stage for overturning the pension law.  Jamey Dunn looked at what other choices remain for state leaders)

Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Sen. Daniel Biss
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s just talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge anytime soon is a “fantasy."

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Arguments before the Illinois Supreme Court on the state's pension reform law.

Amanda Vinicky

The many years legislators spent crafting a measure to rein in the state's pension costs came to a head yesterday in 52-and-a-half minute hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. It's now up to the seven justices whether a law that reduces employees' and retirees' benefits is constitutional.

Even before then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the pension overhaul into law just over a year ago, everyone knew it would come to this.

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