* A handful of the grand bargain bills passed today, including an appropriations bill, the gaming bill, a bill to give CPS its pension parity cash, a procurement reform bill and a local government consolidation bill. But the pension reform bill came up short and will have to be voted on again tomorrow. Another bill (click here for background) was pulled out of the record.
The tax hike is up tomorrow, which is the biggie.
Soon after, senators failed to pass the pension reform bill, once again, with a 26-27 vote. A motion to reconsider allows the bill to be called for a vote once again. On Feb. 8, the pension reform bill garnered just 18 votes — showing there’s a clear effort to garner the votes needed to pass the bill.
The bill would create savings by allowing public sector employees to choose whether their benefits are related to raises they may get or to annual cost of living adjustments to their pensions during retirement. It covers university employees, public school teachers, General Assembly members and Chicago teachers. Retirees and judges are not covered. And other state employees are currently not part of the plan because of ongoing legal action with their contract. It also eliminates the retirement system for future for future lawmakers.
“It’s just a matter of convincing people that it’s part of the grand bargain. If they are reluctant to vote for this individual bill, they should have gotten a broader view of it,” Cullerton said after session. “They all go down if this goes down.”
The Senate president blamed union opposition for some Democratic no votes. But he still posed some optimism about the package.
“People just have to understand this is the classic compromise. So you get as much as you can and you don’t overestimate how much you think you’re entitled to,” Cullerton said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
* Illinois Policy Institute’s news service…
Cullerton appealed for support on the pension bill.
“If you don’t like a bill that’s in the package, then vote ‘no.’ If you like a bill in the package, then vote ‘yes’. It’s not that complicated,” he said. “Sure, if one of them doesn’t pass then they all fail. You would win then, if that’s what you wanted to do.”
State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, said before the session that the total package of bills isn’t a good deal for taxpayers.
“There’s too much increasing in taxes and not enough true reforms and spending cuts,” he said. “It’s important that we have enough spending cuts to say to the taxpayers of Illinois, ‘If we’re going to have to accept a tax increase, there’s a reasonable justification for it.”