A bill that supporters say gives Chicago some “breathing room” in making payments to its police and fire pension funds has advanced in the Illinois legislature.
The Illinois House and a Senate committee approved legislation Saturday to reduce Chicago’s annual mandatory payment for the next five years. The bill now goes to the Senate floor.
Chicago’s payments to the two funds were set to jump from about $300 million this year to roughly $840 million next year. The legislation sets the 2016 payment at about $620 million.
House Republicans opposed the measure, saying putting off pension payments helped create the funding problem in the first place. They questioned the wisdom of relying on money from a Chicago casino that has yet to be approved by lawmakers and is unlikely to pass before lawmakers adjourn on Sunday.
“Talk about putting the cart before the horse,” said Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove. “This is not a panacea, it’s actually a step backwards.”
House Republicans chastised the bill for letting Chicago off the hook for the larger payments the city has been aware of for years and for promising benefits to its workers it could not afford.
* ABC 7…
“So instead of a $600 million increase, we’re talking about a $200 million, $225 million dollar increase,” said state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Hyde Park. “That is sustainable, that is palatable.”
The measure, opposed by most Republicans, also says any city revenue from a yet-to-be-approved Chicago casino must be applied to pension payments. It now goes to the Senate, where one Republican called it another example of Chicago kicking the police and fire pension can down the road.
“They need to start facing this problem,” said State Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine. “They can’t continue to put it off. They’re going to really hurt their police and fireman one day.”
* Another topic mentioned over and over during yesterday’s debate was Chicago’s low property tax rate for homeowners. Several Republicans said the city needed to face up to that fact.
I don’t disagree at all.
However, when Cook County’s pension reform bill was debated last year, Republicans said they couldn’t vote for it because it would lead directly to a property tax hike.
* The reality is that the governor doesn’t want to give Chicago anything until he gets his Turnaround Agenda passed. It’s just another Rauner brick on the road.