SPRINGFIELD, ILL (IRN) – When it comes to a balanced budget, cities are finding themselves taking a hard look at the amount of money public pensions are costing. Lawmakers in Illinois are advancing a measure that some feel is a solution to their pension headaches.
The sponsor of a bill to make it more difficult to puff up public pensions – Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) – calls his proposed constitutional amendment “tough medicine.” A union leader calls it the “wrong medicine” and suggests it won’t matter.
The amendment, which Illinois voters would see in November if the General Assembly passes it, requires that votes to increase pensions be by a three-fifths majority in each house of the Legislature, rather than by a simple majority.
Madigan told a committee, “If there is one person or a small group which wishes to work against the pension sweetener, you’ve advantaged them.”
Henry Bayer, executive director of AFSCME Council 31, says a review of pension votes over the years shows none of them were close: “If this amendment had been in the (Illinois) Constitution, those benefits would have passed with those votes. Thankfully, it would not have prevented those benefits from taking effect.”
The bill, HJRCA 49, has passed the House Personnel and Pensions Committee.