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Illinois Legislature Passes Pension Reform

Brian Mackey

The Illinois General Assembly has approved sweeping changes to pensions for state employees and Governor Pat Quinn said he will sign the legislation.

Illinois is roughly $100 billion short of the money it promised to pay state employees, university workers, and public school teachers.

There will be changes here. Much needed changes.

After years of debate, lawmakers finally agreed on a solution to the problem: cutting benefits, mainly by reducing the three-percent annual increase retirees have gotten on their pensions.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) was unusually forceful in kicking off nearly three hours of debate on Tuesday.

“This is not a one-sided bill. There will be changes here. Much needed changes. But this bill is a well-thought out, well-balanced bill,” Madigan said. 

Labor unions disagree, calling it a "dark day" for police, teachers, and other government workers. They say they'll challenge the legislation in court.

The Illinois Constitution says government pensions cannot be diminished.

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.