WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illinois Pension Reform Plans Go Nowhere Fast

Feb 28, 2013

It was billed as a "day of pensions" in the Illinois House. But it turned into about a half-hour's worth as Illinois lawmakers continue having a hard time confronting the state's $100 billion problem.

There were four proposals reviewed on February 28, each more harsh than what's been discussed in other pension overhauls.

We all need to find something we're for... and each of you has to engage in that process of getting to yes

One would have eliminated cost-of-living raises for pensioners. Another would have increased the retirement age to 67. None of the ideas did well, but that one did receive a single "yes" vote -- from House Speaker Michael Madigan, who engineered the debate and who incidentally is already past that retirement age.

Republicans complained this was just gamesmanship rather than a real attempt to solve the problem.

But Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) defended the process. She said now that it is clear what lawmakers won’t support, they need to say what features they will endorse.

“We all need to find something we're for ... and each of you has to engage in that process of getting to yes," Nekritz said. 

Nekritz, House Republican leader Tom Cross, and more than two dozen other lawmakers came out with a pension plan this week. But she said it doesn't yet have enough votes to pass.