Illinois pensions

Rep. Jeff Keicher

A northern Illinois Republican said he’s pleased lawmakers were able to come together on a new pension bill.

The measure approved by the General Assembly would consolidate police and firefighter pensions across the state into two larger funds.  Illinois State Representative Jeff Keicher said this reform has been supported both by Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker and the state Republican caucus.

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."  

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

A new Illinois law bars newly elected members on county boards within the state from signing up for pensions from the Illinois Municipal Retirement fund.

The law, signed last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner, is a result of a political battle in McHenry County, where a candidate in the November race for county board president found board members were -- depending on the county -- supposed to work 600 or 1,000 hours a year to receive pensions.

Google Maps

Officials with the Teacher’s Retirement System made a decision today that could add another $421 million to Illinois’ annual pension costs.

After more than an hour of listening to actuaries explain why the teacher pension fund isn’t earning as much off its investments as it used to, TRS board member Andrew Hirshman tried explaining it using medical terms instead of math.

Amanda Vinicky

The massive unfunded Illinois pension obligation has made reducing the state's costs a priority for years.

An overhaul of retirement benefits for state employees, public school teachers and university workers has been the subject of talks between state leaders in recent months.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said as much Wednesday, but he sounded uncertain as to what will come of it.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that a previous law cutting pension benefits was unconstitutional.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois workers get an added bonus once they retire -- they don't have to pay taxes on pension or Social Security checks.

It's one possible change the state could consider as it hunts for more money.

Illinois is a rare state that taxes income on a regular paycheck but not on retirement.

Fiscal experts -- like the non-partisan Civic Federation -- say that, as Illinois' population ages and there are more retirees and pensioners, the government will increasingly lose out on a source of revenue.

State Lawmakers Discuss Rauner's Power Over Pensions

Mar 10, 2016
BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to let Governor Bruce Rauner reduce or delay pension payments.

The measure would give the governor the power to make unilateral cuts and reallocate money around state government.

Rauner's budget director says the governor would rather get a bipartisan deal -- including pension changes -- instead of going it alone.

Senate President John Cullerton has a pension proposal Rauner supports. But Cullerton says his legislation is not a quick fix for the state's massive pension liability. 

illinois.gov

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals, but it seemed like there was a small oasis: an agreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

They say Illinois could save a billion dollars a year by forcing teachers and state workers to make a choice. Either retire on a higher pensionable salary, or be allowed to receive compounded cost-of-living bumps upon retirement.

During his budget address last week, though, Rauner signaled impatience:

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers.

In a unanimous decision, the high court says lawmakers overstepped their power when they sought to cut pension benefits for state employees, university workers and public school teachers.

Illinois pensions are protected by the state Constitution, but the state argued a financial emergency meant those protections could be disregarded.

Democrats Push For Pension Plan Details

Apr 14, 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less-generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge any time soon is a “fantasy."

Pension Overhaul In Hands Of State Supreme Court

Mar 11, 2015
Illinois Supreme Court

Oral arguments on whether state law passed in 2013 will stand were held Wednesday before the Illinois Supreme Court. 

The law reduces benefits for public employees like teachers, prison guards and many others.

State-employee unions object, citing a section of the state constitution -- Article VIII Section 5 -- which they say clearly prevents the state from taking such action.

Illinois Solicitor General Carolyn Shapiro, representing the state, disagrees.

Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.

State of Illinois

Legislators passed a law overhauling the state's retirement systems. Soaring pension debt remains a concern. The law's constitutionality is also in question. It reduces workers' and retirees' benefits, and raises the retirement age.

SUAA

The State Universities Annuitants Association, which lobbies to protect the pension benefits of higher education employees, and the Illinois Attorney General have reached a tentative agreement to push the start of pension reform for community college and university workers back until July 2015.  The agreement must still be approved by a Sangamon County judge.

In a release, SUAA Executive Director Linda Brookhart says the deal addresses a critical issue:

This month, Illinois lawmakers took a major step in repairing the state's finances by approving a pension overhaul. The plan has its critics, including unions who promise to file a lawsuit. The courts will decide whether the pending changes violate the state's constitution. 

TRS

Illinois' largest state government retirement system is moving ahead with implementation of the pension overhaul. The move comes even as unions are preparing a lawsuit.

Teachers Retirement System spokesman Dave Urbanek says the agency is preparing to implement the law when it goes into effect next year on June 1st.

TRS has been getting a lot of questions from concerned teachers, but there are no easy answers. Urbanek says every retiree will be treated differently depending on their pension amount and years of service.

Gov. Quinn Signs Pension Reform Bill

Dec 5, 2013
Amanda Vinicky / Illinois Public Radio / WUIS

In just over a week, a pension overhaul went from an agreement between Illinois' legislative leaders to law.

On Tuesday, lawmakers voted for the plan to bring down the state's $100 billion pension debt.

Thursday, Governor Pat Quinn signed it into law.

Senator Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston, was key to its passage.  During the Senate debate, he called it a reasonable compromise.

Roll Call And Reaction To Pension Overhaul Passage

Dec 3, 2013
Amanda Vinicky / IPR

Illinois lawmakers approved cuts to state employee pensions Tuesday. The move comes after years of stalemate over how to address the worst-funded pension plans of any state.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn immediately declared victory and says he'll sign it into law, while labor unions promise a court challenge. 


Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/IPR

Illinois lawmakers approved a pension overhaul Tuesday. The Senate passed the plan 30 - 24, and the House approved it on a 62 - 53 vote. Governor Pat Quinn has indicated he will sign this bill, which is intended to save $160-billion over the next three decades. 

Details Released On Pension Proposal

Dec 2, 2013
Amanda Vinicky

Earlier this week, legislative leaders announced a deal to bring a pension overhaul before the full chambers. It is estimated to save $160 billion over the next 30 years.  Illinois has the nation's most underfunded retirement systems.

On Friday, the leaders' staff sent around the memo below that highlights changes for public employee pensions.  Lawmakers are expected in Springfield to vote on legislation Tuesday, December 3.  Employee unions have already indicated opposition and if it passes, a legal challenge is likely.

PENSION REFORM PROPOSAL

NIU Workers Talk Pensions With Lawmakers

Nov 21, 2013
NIU

Employee councils from NIU co-hosted a forum Wednesday, which included several area state lawmakers. The event was viewed as an opportunity for NIU faculty to offer their thoughts as the General Assembly continues to explore how to fix Illinois' troubled pension system.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is seeking a direct appeal to the state's high court, as he tries to withhold legislators' pay.

Quinn vetoed legislators' salaries because he says they don't deserve it until they've passed a pension overhaul.

But a lower court ruled that's unconstitutional.

In a brief that asks the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case, the Quinn administration argues that it is too early for the judiciary to intervene with his veto because the General Assembly never took a vote attempting to override him.

A Cook County Judge ruled today that Illinois lawmakers will continue to receive paychecks while Governor Pat Quinn appeals a related ruling. 

Pension Committee Update

Sep 27, 2013
Brian Mackey / IPR

A special committee has been negotiating over how to solve the pension problem for more than 12 weeks. 

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, is careful these days when she talks about the status of pension deliberations, and especially when asked how close legislators are to reaching a deal.

"I have actually stopped making predictions publicly, because I have been so wrong, that I'm a little bit embarrassed at this point," she says.

Victor Yehling / WNIJ

Illinoisans continue to struggle along in the state with the “worst in the nation“ public pension system.    Now, the cries for reform are louder than ever as the deficit continues to snowball.

Quinn Takes Action To Suspend Pay For Lawmakers

Jul 10, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn is using his veto power to try to suspend state lawmakers' pay because of their inaction on Illinois' pension crisis. 

Illinois.gov

The committee in charge of finding a pension solution for Illinois is scheduled to meet again Monday. The 10-member committee formed last month out of a special session on pensions. But will the threat of another deadline force them strike a deal?

thisismyillinois.com

Governor Pat Quinn had harsh words for the pension conference committee that met in Chicago this week. Lawmakers are trying to come to an agreement on how to fix Illinois' pension problems.

The conference committee, which was formed last week, was Quinn's idea. But he says he thought they'd get to work right away.

"They don't wait eight days to get together. I think it was a little disappointing that the members of this conference committee took their own sweet time at even coming together," said Quinn.

Illinois lawmakers have created a committee to address the state's 97-billion-dollar pension problem. The House and Senate agreed to form a bipartisan conference committee to tackle the nation’s largest state pension shortfall. 

state of Illinois

Illinois’ top public officials met behind closed doors today to discuss the state’s 100-billion dollar pension debt. And still - there is no clear compromise on pension reform.

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