* Senate President John Cullerton told the SJ-R editorial board basically what he told me a couple of weeks ago. He backs the proposal being worked on by the pension reform conference committee. Bernie…
Elements of the compromise include having what is now a 3 percent compounded cost of living adjustment added to pension payments changed to half of the Consumer Price Index. Cullerton said the COLA couldn’t drop below 1 percent.
“It has a ceiling of 4 percent,” he added, “which is important because if there is inflation, there could be an actual opportunity for people to … get more than they’re getting now.”
Estimates are that the proposal would have state pension funds fully funded by 2043.
The proposal would also decrease active employee contributions by 1 percentage point.
“It’s not that much money in the big picture in terms of the savings,” Cullerton said of that drop in employee contributions.
The combination of reduced employee contributions and “inflation protection” afforded by allowing the COLA to potentially rise to 4 percent, Cullerton said, could solidify the argument that the plan meets requirements of the state constitution, which doesn’t allow pension benefits to be diminished.
The Senate President said he hoped to find 18 votes for the conference committee report, meaning Republicans would have to come up with 12.
* Cullerton also said he figures the unions will sue to block the bill on constitutional grounds…
“That’s fine with me, because if it were to pass and be ruled unconstitutional, “we go right back to the bill we passed that the unions supported, tweak it some more, get some more savings — that’s my opinion — and then pass that.”
Maybe. Or maybe a new governor comes in (Rauner, for example) and decides to dump defined benefits going forward altogether.