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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's $97 billion pension shortfall isn't as dire as some people are describing.

The Chicago Democrat told WGN Radio that the pension shortfall is not an imminent crisis, but that finding a solution can help keep Illinois' income taxes down.

Cullerton made the remarks as lawmakers head back to Springfield to begin their fall veto session Tuesday. They face considerable pressure to deal with the pension problem, considered the nation's worst. But a bipartisan committee working on reform is split over a plan that saves $138 billion over 30 years.

Cullerton says the state has been putting more money into its pension systems in recent years under a 1996 law.  He says he wants to lower the annual amount the state pays in.

 

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A proposed solution to Illinois' historic $100 million pension crisis is hanging in the balance as the state Legislature's October veto session approaches.

   Key Democrats on a pension panel are pushing a plan to save the state $138 billion over the next 30 years, but Republican lawmakers want a number of changes. House Speaker Michael Madigan hasn't yet committed to calling the proposal for a vote, either.

   Senate President John Cullerton supports the deal and calls it "less unconstitutional" than a previous plan that would have saved $163 billion.

   Illinois' five public-employee retirement funds have an unfunded liability of about $100 billion. The annual contribution to the fund, plus payments on past pension bonds, is about $7.65 billion this year. That number will increase in years to come without action.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is meeting with key lawmakers to attempt a compromise on legislation allowing people to carry concealed guns.

Spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton met earlier Wednesday with Senate and House members who have rival, but similar, measures.

Phelon says there are "core compromises" that can be made to create an acceptable plan.

A top Senate committee voted Tuesday to reject a House-approved version that not only allows the public possession of weapons but invalidates all local ordinances on firearms, such as Chicago's assault-weapons ban.

The same committee advanced a plan by Senate Democrats that excludes the pre-emption of local laws and includes tighter restrictions on carrying guns while drinking alcohol.

 

Published in Local News
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate has approved on a second vote Senate President John Cullerton's proposal overhauling teacher pensions.

Minutes earlier senators rejected the plan; it was shy one vote to pass. Cullerton used a parliamentary procedure to recall the bill. The second vote yesterday was 30-22.

Cullerton's amended plan addresses the Teachers' Retirement System and is estimated to save up to $40 billion over the next 30 years. It also offers employees a choice on whether they want retirement health care or reduced annual cost-of-living increases.

Opponents say the plan doesn't go far enough in addressing Illinois' pension crisis. Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability.

Earlier in the day senators rejected a total overhaul sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss.
Published in Local News

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