Illinois House Speaker Plans New Vote on Pension Plan
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is planning a fresh vote on his plan to overhaul the public-employee pension system, despite a request by the governor for compromise with the Senate.
Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, filed legislation Wednesday identical to a bill (SB2404) the House approved last month that failed by a wide margin in the Senate.
It doesn’t mention any inclusion of a rival proposal by Senate President John Cullerton, as requested by Gov. Pat Quinn Monday as a compromise way to move forward on fixing the state’s nearly $100 billion shortfall in funding employee pensions. Quinn has called a special session in Springfield for next week to address the issue.
Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, said Wednesday that the hybrid proposal sought by Quinn was “unlikely to pass” so the speaker is still pushing his own proposal.
“I think he was pretty direct about the proposal that he thinks would get the job done,” Brown said.
Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon did not comment directly on Madigan’s move on Wednesday, but said that the Senate president was “committed to advancing” the dual proposal supported by Quinn. That legislation has yet to be filed.
Madigan’s plan would unilaterally impose pension changes on state workers and raise the retirement age, by most accounts saving the state the most money of any proposal. Cullerton’s plan would give state workers choices over what benefits to receive in retirement, which he contends would give it a better chance of surviving a court challenge.
Quinn proposed passing both in a single bill, essentially making Cullerton’s proposal a backup plan in case Madigan’s solution is thrown out in court. But Madigan suggested it was too complicated and called on Quinn to persuade the Senate to approve the House supported option.
The one change in the new version of Madigan’s plan is that its implementation would be delayed until June 2014, which means it can now be approved with fewer votes.
Madigan’s legislation will be presented at a House committee meeting Tuesday, the day before the full Legislature convenes.
Illinois’ five public employee retirement systems are $97 billion short of what’s needed to pay benefits that were promised to workers and retirees. The shortfall is due largely to years of the Legislature voting to skip or short the state’s payments.
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