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Gov. Rauner Optimistic About Pension Reform

Rachel Otwell

  Lawmakers haven't touched state pension benefits since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled their previous attempt unconstitutional.  That was nearly a year-and-a-half-ago. But Governor Bruce Rauner says he's "pretty excited": He thinks they will pass a new law this winter.

"I think we can come to a ... important solution to fund our pension structure. Again: Protect existing benefits, but put in place new options that are more affordable that employees can choose among, with their own choice, their own options."  

"That's both fair as well as constitutional," he said Tuesday during a Facebook Live stream. "I think it's important to come up with more creative options that employees can chose among, that may be more affordable in the long run.”

Rauner says the state would save billions if it could spend the money on other needs, and that there are a "number of ideas on the table."

He continues to embrace a concept introduced by Senate President John Cullerton.  It would give workers a choice in how they want their benefits package to be reduced. But unions say that's illegal, and Democratic lawmakers aren't keen on moving forward with the budget and other issues at impasse.

Still there's an incentive for Chicago legislators to get on board. A pension overhaul is a condition for Chicago Public Schools getting millions of dollars the district needs.

The city of Chicago is also proposing changes to its own pension fund, which require the governor and General Assembly's approval.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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