* As I told you yesterday, House Speaker Michael Madigan is holding yet another “weekly order of business” today, but this time on pension reform. He has four amendments, two each to HB1154 and HB1165.
Keep a close eye on our live session coverage post for updates.
The SJ-R summarizes the Madigan amendments…
* End cost-of-living adjustments to pension benefits for anyone hired before Jan. 1, 2011. Retirees now receive a 3 percent compounded COLA annually. Other pension proposals have called for limiting COLAs, but not eliminating them.
* Stipulate that COLAs would be eliminated until the pension systems achieve an 80 percent funding level. The five state-funded pension systems now have a funding level of about 39 percent.
* Raise the retirement age at which a person could collect full pension benefits to 67.
* Increase working employees’ contributions to their pensions by 5 percent of salary, in addition to what employees already pay into the system. Other pension plans have called for higher employee contributions, but in the range of 2 percent or 3 percent.
They include elimination of pension cost-of-living increases, an apparently extreme measure that Madigan put forth as a serious potential remedy because “there’s a huge problem,” spokesman Steve Brown said.
“Everything’s serious,” said Brown, “and it’s just, keep working on the issue until we can find a majority of the Legislature willing to pass a bill and send it to the governor.”
* Meanwhile, as we’ve already discussed, Rep. Elaine Nekritz and House GOP Leader Tom Cross have introduced a retooled pension reform plan…
But don’t expect any immediate budget savings…
Cross and Nekritz said their legislation could save the state $2 billion a year. But it wouldn’t take hold immediately and help lawmakers with the budget they’re working to craft now.
“We still have enormous fiscal pressures,” Nekritz said.
* Senate President Cullerton is OK with the new language, but still wants his own plan to be part of the solution…
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is on board with the newest Illinois House pension solution plan.
Spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says the Chicago Democrat plans to amend his proposed pension fix with language from a bipartisan House plan announced Wednesday. But Cullerton would retain other provisions he says would ensure the plan’s constitutionality.
* Speaker gears up test votes on pension proposals
* New pension reform plan surfaces in Springfield
* House GOP OK with new cost-shift on pensions
* Editorial: Illinois stands to run off road