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   CHICAGO (AP) — Candidates running for Illinois governor in 2014 have started shaping up their positions on a new pension proposal that lawmakers are expected to consider this week.

   Republican venture capitalist Bruce Rauner said in an email yesterday to supporters that it's the wrong deal for Illinois. He says the savings are insufficient and he doesn't agree with how lawmakers reached the agreement.

   Meanwhile Republican state Sen. Bill Brady says he's in favor. In a statement, he says that it's package of "meaningful reforms" that would strengthen Illinois' fiscal stability. Brady sat on a bipartisan pension panel for months.

   Last week, the state's four legislative leaders announced some details of the deal aimed at solving the state's nearly $100 billion pension crisis. It's estimated to save about $160 billion over three decades.

Published in Local News

   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he's pleased the Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal of a ruling that found his veto of lawmakers' pay unconstitutional.

   The court issued its one-page order Wednesday. A hearing date has not been set.

   Quinn halted lawmakers' salaries in July.  He said they shouldn't get paid until they addressed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

   House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton then sued, arguing Quinn didn't have the authority to halt lawmaker paychecks.

   A Cook County judge in September ordered that legislators be paid immediately.

   Quinn appealed directly to the state's high court, saying his move was allowed through the state constitution.

   Quinn's spokeswoman says the governor will continue to not accept his own paycheck until pension reform is achieved.

 
Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' top Democratic legislative leaders are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to reject Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a lawsuit over legislative pay.

   Quinn halted lawmakers' pay in July until pension reform was achieved. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled last month that the move was unconstitutional and ordered lawmakers to be sent back pay, with interest. An appeal is being reviewed by the state Supreme Court.

   House Speaker Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton dispute Quinn's argument that the Illinois constitution only bans mid-term increases in pay.Illinois' unfunded pension liability is close to $100 billion, due largely to lawmakers shorting or skipping payments. A committee of lawmakers has been working on one possible reform package that could save $138 billion over 30 years.

 
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) - A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says he will keep working to pass a pension reform bill he believes can survive a court challenge.

   Rikeesha Phelon says Cullerton and fellow Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan have "the same goal but different approaches" to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.

   Madigan filed his pension plan on Tuesday. It caps the salary on which a pension can be based at $110,000 and limits annual cost-of-living increases.

   Madigan's legislation also removes language from a plan backed by Cullerton that got Senate approval last month. Cullerton's plan offers affected state-government employees and teachers a choice of benefits instead of unilaterally cutting them.

   Cullerton believes the state must give retirees a choice in benefits in order for the legislation to be considered constitutional.

Published in Local News
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says any overhaul of Illinois' worst-in-the-nation pension problem should have a funding guarantee.

He spoke yesterday just days after House lawmakers approved their third pension-related bill. The latest would reduce and delay cost-of-living increases in state employees' retirement pay.

Pensions have been Quinn's top issue for more than a year. He says lawmakers' work last week was a step in the right direction but there's further to go. Quinn says any reform package should address retirement age and pensionable salary.

Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension debt because lawmakers skipped or shorted pension payments for years.

House lawmakers recently OK'd bills that would cap the salary on which benefits are based to the limit set for Social Security and delay the retirement age incrementally.
Published in Local News

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