A report being released today says Illinois' plan to save 160-billion dollars ultimately won't make much of a dent in the state's growing deficits. The University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs study says changes to the state's major public pension systems will eliminate their unfunded liability over the next 25 years, but the state's deficit will increase to $13 billion during that time. Institute researchers projected a $14 billion deficit - a $1 billion difference - if the state had not implemented pension reform. Institute Director Chris Mooney says the study was released as campaigns for the 2014 general election begin to heat up in order to make sure the state's fiscal crisis is addressed.
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.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The estimated savings on a pension proposal backed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan earlier this year is nearly $25 billion less than originally thought.
That's because the Teachers Retirement System - one of Illinois' five pension systems - says it made a mistake in its calculations. The change was outlined in a Monday letter to a bipartisan panel tasked with coming up with an approach to solving Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
Madigan's plan involves across-the-board cuts in benefits. It was originally touted to save Illinois about $187 billion over 30 years. However, the new estimate is about $163 billion in the same time period.
Another plan from Senate President John Cullerton, which had union support, was estimated to save roughly $47 billion over the same timeframe.
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.
The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and comes out of a laborious process where lawmakers are addressing the pension problem piece by piece instead of a total overhaul at once. House members voted in favor 66-50 yesterday. It's the third scaled-back pension bill the House has recently approved.
Thursday's proposal says that no cost-of-living increases can be taken until retirees reach 67 years of age, or five years after retirement and applies COLAs only to the first $25,000 of an annual pension.
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because for years lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments.