Illinois House Advances Plan For Cook County Pension Changes; Reforms Could Test Court Ruling


An Illinois House committee on Wednesday approved a proposal that would bring a series of changes to Cook County’s pension system.

But the proposal serves another purpose: if enacted, it will test the extent to which pension reforms can be implemented in the wake of the state Supreme Court ruling that struck down Illinois’ pension law.

More details on the Cook County plan, from the Associated Press:

A House committee approved the measure Wednesday by a 5-4 vote along party lines which would call for a roughly $147 million increase in the county’ annual contribution to the pension fund next year. It now heads to the full chamber for consideration.

The proposal calls for increasing the retirement age and boosting county employees’ contributions to their pension plans. But it also guarantees compounded cost-of-living adjustments and health care benefits for workers when they retire, which are components that supporters say could comply with a section of the state constitution that says promised benefits shall not be “diminished” or “impaired.”

“I’ve believed all along this is a different plan,” State Rep. Elaine Nekritz said, comparing the proposed county pension overhaul to the statewide pension overhaul, struck down earlier this month by the state Supreme Court sending. That ruling sent lawmakers back to square one on an issue that has dogged them for years.

Some lawmakers think this reform package will be legal because it gives workers something in return for cuts in some areas – in this case, workers are given compounded COLAs and health benefits in exchange for raising the retirement age.


Photo credit: “Gfp-illinois-springfield-capitol-and-sky” by Yinan Chen – (gallery, image). Via Wikimedia Commons –

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